Poll: Corzine Takes One-Point Lead, After Months Of Trailing

October 6, 2009 4:50 a.m.

A new Fairleigh Dickinson poll has Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) with a one-point edge over his Republican opponent, former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie — the first poll that has had Corzine ahead during the entire general election season.

The numbers: Corzine 44%, Christie 43%, and independent Chris Daggett 4% (Daggett was not listed as a choice, but was a voluntary answer — more on that later). This is within the ±4% margin of error, but again this is the first poll that has had Corzine ahead in a long time. A month ago, Christie led by 47%-42% over Corzine.

Interestingly, Corzine’s approval rating remains in the negative zone: Approve 38%, Disapprove 50%. However, he appears to be getting enough respondents to pick him right now, if only reluctantly, due to disenchantment with Christie — a common pattern in New Jersey elections, where Republicans often run strong right up until declining in October and November.A half-sample of respondents were given Daggett’s name as a choice. The result was was Corzine 38%, Christie 37%, Daggett 16%. Another half-sample was given a much lower-profile independent candidate as a choice, Gary Steele, and the result was not too different: Corzine and Christie tied at 38% each, Steele 12%.

The pollster’s analysis shows that Corzine has been able to undo Christie’s prior advantages on key issues of character and leadership: “Corzine has all but caught up to Christie (34%-36%) on the question of ‘which candidate better understands the concerns of the average person?’ Asked which candidate is better described as ‘honest, trustworthy,’ a measure in which Christie originally led by 33%-24%, Corzine is now slightly ahead 31%-28%.”

Late Update: Christie campaign manager Bill Stepien released this statement, reacting to the poll: “Poll after poll has found that over half of New Jerseyans are sick and tired of Jon Corzine’s high taxes, irresponsible spending and job killing policies. While Jon Corzine has out spent us by millions with his own Wall Street money with nasty, negative advertising for months, he has little to show for it because no amount of mudslinging will erase the fact that struggling families pay the highest taxes, not to mention highest property taxes in the country. New Jerseyans know Jon Corzine will keep raising taxes which is why they know its time for a change.”

Late Late Update: This post initially gave the wrong amount of support for independent Gary Steele. It has been corrected.

Late Late Update: Corzine communications director Sean Darcy has released this statement: “Clearly, the only poll that matters is in November, but the trends are undeniable. People across New Jersey are recognizing that Jon Corzine fights for what matters to New Jersey families. He’s gotten health care for almost 100,000 more kids. He strongly supports a woman’s right to choose and is one of a handful of governors to pass paid family leave that lets people care for newborns or sick relatives while still getting paid. But the more people hear about Chris Christie the more they see the clear choice between these two candidates. Christie opposes paid family leave and he would give insurance companies free rein to drop coverage for critical procedures like mammograms and autism treatments. He supports a Constitutional amendment to ban abortion, and he sides with ultra-conservatives in refusing to support embryonic stem cell research, which could save lives. Christie even opposes banning guns that fire bullets to pierce a cop’s bulletproof vest. Christie continues to show that he is extremely wrong when it matters most.”

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