New Jersey voters have a dimmer view of both Jon Corzine and Chris Christie since PPP last polled the state in late July but the overall picture remains the same with the Republican challenger holding a 44-35 lead over the Democratic incumbent.
The race has tightened a little bit since the last poll when Christie led 50-36. Independent Chris Daggett is polling at 13%.
There are several major reasons for Corzine's deficit:
-Christie has a 48-29 lead with independents. 74% of them say they have an unfavorable opinion of Corzine.
-Christie is winning 79% of the Republican vote while Corzine is at just 64% with Democrats.
-Just 62% of respondents who report having voted for Corzine in 2005 say they plan to do so again, while he's won over only 4% of Doug Forrester's voters.
-Perhaps due to a lack of enthusiasm for Corzine with the Democratic base it appears the electorate will be much more Republican than is typical for New Jersey...likely voters for this fall say they voted for Barack Obama by a margin of only 48-46 even though he won the state 57-42 last year.
Negative attacks appear to be succeeding in hurting both candidates' standing with the voters. Christie's favorability is now 45/41, after it was 42/32 in July. Corzine's gone from 33/56 to 32/60.
How susceptible are these numbers to change? 28% of voters are either undecided or open to changing their minds between now and the election. If you look at the race just among voters who say they've absolutely decided who they're going to vote for Christie leads with 37% to 29% for Corzine and 6% for Daggett.
Those persuadable voters are a pretty Democratic leaning group. They voted for Barack Obama 53-36 last year, supported Corzine 56-29 in 2005, and 39% of them are Democrats compared to just 20% who are Republicans.
You'd think all that would add up to them being more inclined to vote for Corzine. But 61% of them have an unfavorable opinion of him. Of course 44% of them have an unfavorable opinion of Christie too, which is why a lot of them say they're planning to vote for Daggett right now.
So what's the bottom line here? It's unlikely at this point that Corzine's going to be able to convince voters to pick him because they like him. And while his initial salvos against Christie have helped tighten the race, it hasn't been nearly enough. So he's going to need to do two things to pull this one out. First is hit Christie with something in October that has a stronger impact than any of the attacks so far. Corzine probably can't win unless more than half the voters have an unfavorable opinion of Christie too. And the second is to change the electorate by getting Democrats more excited about his candidacy.
It's an uphill battle but if there's one state where Democrats should never be counted out to make a late comeback it's New Jersey.