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Poll: Booker Has 'Insurmountable Lead' In Senate Primary Race

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) - A new poll shows Newark Mayor Cory Booker is enjoying a big lead over his opponents in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.

The Monmouth University survey released Tuesday shows Booker with the support of 49 percent of Democrats likely to vote in the Aug. 13 primary. His closest competitor, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, got 12 percent. U.S. Rep. Rush Holt received 8 percent of the vote while Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, the only woman in the race, got 3 percent.

Monmouth University Polling Institute Director Patrick Murray said Booker's opponents might be trying to use his fame against him, but are not gaining traction doing so.

Poll: Booker Has 'Insurmountable Lead' In Senate Primary Race

"It just doesn't work," Murray said. "People just like Cory Booker."

More than a quarter of likely voters say they are undecided four weeks before the special election primary to fill the seat of Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died in office in June. The general election to fill the seat for a year is Oct. 16.

"In the sense that that national name recognition must have come from something, something that he's done as mayor of Newark, that he's earned this celebrity. So that the attacks by the other candidates on his celebrity just seem to fall flat," said Murray.

LINK: Monmouth University Poll Results (pdf)

The poll shows strong support for Booker among all demographic groups.

"What seems to be an insurmountable lead," said Murray.

Though a third of likely voters identify experience in Washington as very important to the job of senator, even these respondents support Booker over the veteran congressmen by roughly 3-to-1.

Booker, in his second term as mayor of New Jersey's largest city, also draws criticism for his close relationship to Republican Gov. Chris Christie, especially among those who say they are undecided.

Four in 10 of the respondents say the policy positions of the four Democrats are similar. Perhaps that's why just 14 percent say they would be very upset if their candidate didn't win the nomination.

Gov. Christie appointed former state attorney general Jeffrey Chiesa to temporarily fill Lautenberg's senate seat until the special election is held in Oct.

The telephone survey of 403 registered Democrats likely to vote in the primary was conducted July 11-14 with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

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