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Booker Leads Lonegan By Double-Digits in U.S. Senate Race [AUDIO]

There is lots of good news for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, Cory Booker, in today’s Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll, but there’s a little bad news mixed in too.

Special Senate Election candidates Democrat Cory Booker (L) and Republican Steve Lonegan
Special Senate Election candidates Democrat Cory Booker (L) and Republican Steve Lonegan (both photos Facebook)

The Newark Mayor leads his Republican opponent, Steve Lonegan, by a margin of 54-38 percent among likely New Jersey voters, but most of those same voters aren’t buying Booker’s claims that he’ll be a “new kind of politician.”

The overwhelmingly vast majority of Democrats (92 percent) support Booker. Almost eight-in-10 (79 percent) Republicans back Lonegan. Independent voters are split with 43 percent leaning toward Booker and 41 percent going for Lonegan.

“Cory Booker appears to be in the driver’s seat after his big primary win, but his personal ratings declined over the course of the campaign,” says Patrick Murray, Director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “Steve Lonegan, on the other hand, remains basically unknown to half the electorate after coasting to the GOP nomination.”

While name recognition doesn’t appear to be a problem for Booker, Lonegan clearly has his work cut out for him; 57 percent have a favorable opinion of Booker, while 23 percent have an unfavorable view, and 20 percent have no opinion.

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Lonegan is not faring as well with personal ratings at 31 percent favorable to 20 percent unfavorable, and 49 percent offering no opinion of the GOP nominee.

“There is still an outside chance that the dynamics of this race could turn in Lonegan’s favor, but it would take a sea change in partisan turnout to do it,” says Murray.

While Booker’s personal ratings are positive, efforts to portray himself as a different kind of politics fall flat with most voters. Just 37 percent of likely voters see Booker as a new kind of politician and 49 percent see him as more of a typical politician. Only Democrats (52 percent) are likely to agree with the Booker campaign message that he is a new kind of politician. Most Republicans (60 percent) and independents (55 percent) say he is more of a typical politician.

The idea to make this special election a referendum on President Barack Obama, might not be the best strategy for Lonegan.

Obama’s job performance ratings are not as strong among likely voters as they are among the entire New Jersey public, although the numbers are still more positive – 49 percent approve – than negative – 43 percent disapprove. On the issue of Obamacare, 44 percent of likely voters would like to see their next U.S. Senator vote to overturn the law, as Lonegan has vowed to do. This compares to 47 percent, who say they would not want their Senator to do this.

The special election is scheduled for a mid-October Wednesday, just three weeks before the regularly scheduled November election for governor, state legislature, and a variety of local offices. If given the choice of voting in only one of those two elections, 67 percent say they would opt for the November election while just 26 percent say they would turn out for the special Senate election.

The poll was conducted by telephone from August 15 to 18, 2013 with 696 New Jersey voters likely to vote in the October special election. The margin of error is +/- 3.7 percent.

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