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Who Benefits from Low Turnout in NJ’s U.S. Senate Race? [AUDIO]

Most political experts expect very low voter turnout in the Oct. 16 special election for U.S. Senate. Some insiders predict record low turnout.

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

The same pundits say it’s still too early to tell if low turnout will help Democrat Cory Booker or Republican Steve Lonegan.

“Right now Cory Booker is leading by about 16 points,” says Patrick Murray director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “That’s not as large as some people expected, so it’s possible that this low turnout is actually helping the Republican.”

A number of Republicans are probably not going to vote at all in the October election, says Murray. He thinks many will vote in the November election because the Governor’s office and the entire legislature are up for grabs then.

“I think the issue here is that there are some Republicans who may sit out the race in October, but come out in November because there’s more at stake and they don’t see a winning option in October,” says Murray. “At the same time, Democrats may decide to sit out both races. One, because Cory Booker is so far in the lead and (Democratic gubernatorial challenger Sen.) Barbara Buono is not going to win, so why bother voting in either election?”

Voter turnout didn’t really matter in the recent U.S. Senate primaries according to Murray, but he thinks it matters a lot in the special election. Gov. Chris Christie formally endorsed Lonegan last week, but Murray says it’s also unclear if that help motivate Republican voters.

Full Coverage Special Senate Election

“It’s very hard for Gov. Christie to impart his own brand of magic onto another candidate, particularly one running for the U.S. Senate,” explains Murray. “It might help him a little bit in the legislative races where he’s hoping to turn out the vote during his own re-election campaign, but in a separate election these endorsements probably matter little unless Gov. Christie is also going to be out on the campaign trail with Steve Lonegan.”

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