A new Rasmussen poll in the New Jersey gubernatorial race finds that the establishment Republican choice, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, could be in a tough race for the GOP nomination against the conservative insurgent, former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan.
The numbers: Christie 39%, Lonegan 29%, with a Â±5% margin of error. The winner of the Republican primary, on June 2, will face Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine, whose approval ratings have been in negative territory.
From the pollster's analysis: "In primary elections, turnout is often the key. Lonegan's supporters are somewhat more committed to participating in the primary suggesting that a low turnout could favor his prospects."
My own perspective as a New Jerseyan: This state has become heavily Democratic, with Barack Obama carrying it by a 57%-42% margin. The last time the Republicans won the governorship was with the narrow re-election of the moderate Christie Whitman in 1997. In 2001, the conservative insurgent Bret Schundler won the GOP nomination, and then lost the general election by more than ten points.