Independent Chris Daggett is polling at 13% in our New Jersey survey this week. That's obviously an eye opener but keep this in mind: while 84% of Chris Christie's supporters and 81% of Jon Corzine's supporters say they will definitely vote for them, only 47% of Daggett's say they'll do the same for him. A lot of folks saying they're going to support him right now are voters who dislike both major party candidates and are more or less 'parked' with Daggett but will probably end up voting for Christie or Corzine in the end. It's unlikely Daggett will really end up pulling double digits, but it does seem likely he'll have an impact on the race.
So what exactly is that impact?
There's a strong argument both that he's hurting Christie and that he's hurting Corzine.
Let's start with the incumbent. Daggett's voters say they went for Corzine 55-37 over Doug Forrester in 2005 and that they voted 57-32 for Barack Obama last fall. 47% of them are Democrats and just 18% are Republicans. Based on all that you would think they're taking from Corzine.
But we also asked Daggett supporters who their second choice would be. And 48% of them said Christie to just 32% for Corzine, seeming to indicate that it's actually the Republican being hurt by the unusually strong independent.
The answer may be a little more nuanced than a simple conclusion that Daggett is hurting either Christie or Corzine. It looks like he's picking up disaffected progressives who can't quite bring themselves to vote for a Republican. So he's hurting Corzine because these voters should be his base but he's also hurting Christie because if he wasn't in the race those voters might be eager enough for change that they would cross over and vote for him.
All things considered his presence in the race may come out to just about a wash.
Full results here