NJ-Gov: Will Corzine outperform the final polls?

The polling for Tuesday’s gubernatorial election in New Jersey is all all over the map. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a wide split.


Governor Corzine and his campaign have done a terrific job in getting this far. Indeed, at the end of August it looked all over with Christie consistently hitting 50 percent. But even then there was always the nagging feeling that you never say never with regard to a Democrat in New Jersey.

The basis for this is the positive numbers for Republicans throughout this decade in the state – the 2004 Presidential race, the 2006 Senate race, the 2008 Senate and Presidential races. In each case of course the Democrat went on to win comfortably.

Further, and what I was particularly interested in here, there is the belief that the final polls will favor Republicans by at least a couple points. A hidden Democratic vote if you will. So, is this fact or merely wishful thinking?

Here are the final polls in each case mentioned earlier. I’ve included the 2005 gubernatorial race for obvious reasons.

2004 President

Result –

Kerry +6

Final Polls –

(Strategic Vision) TIE

(Quinnipiac) Kerry +5

(Star-Ledger) Kerry +4

(Survey USA) Kerry +12

(Rasmussen) Kerry +12

(FDU Public Mind) Kerry +7

2005 Governor

Result –

Corzine +10

Final Polls –

(WNBC/Marist) Corzine +5

(Rasmussen) Corzine +5

(Survey USA) Corzine +6

(Quinnipiac) Corzine +7

(Monmouth/Gannett) Corzine +9

(Star-Ledger/Rutgers) Corzine +6

(Fairleigh Dickinson) Corzine +2

(Strategic Vision) Corzine +6

(Stockton College-Zogby) Corzine +7  

(Record/Research 2000) Corzine +9

(New York Times) Corzine +9

2006 Senate

Result –

Menendez +9

Final Polls –

(OnPoint Polling and Research) Menendez +9

(Quinnipiac) Menendez +5

(Strategic Vision) Menendez +7

(USA Today/Gallup) Menendez +10

(Mason-Dixon/MSNBC-McClatchy) Menendez +7

(Monmouth University/Gannett) Menendez +3

(WNBC/Marist Poll) Menendez +8

(Rasmussen) Menendez +5

(Fairleigh Dickinson/PublicMind) Menendez +10

(Reuters/Zogby International) Menendez +12

(Rutgers/Eagleton) Menendez +4

(Zogby Interactive) Menendez +6

(CNN/Opinion Research Corporation) Menendez +7

(Research 2000) Menendez +6

(CBS News/New York Times) Menendez +1

(Bennett, Petts & Blumenthal) Menendez +9

(Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg) Menendez +4

2008 President

Result –

Obama +15

Final Polls –

(Rasmussen Reports) Obama +15

(Monmouth University/Gannett) Obama +21

(Survey USA) Obama +10

(Fairleigh Dickinson University) Obama +18

(The Record/Research 2000) Obama +16

(Strategic Vision) Obama +15

(Marist College) Obama +17

(Quinnipiac) Obama +23

2008 Senate

Result –

Lautenberg +13

Final Polls –

(Survey USA) Lautenberg +15

(Strategic Vision) Lautenberg +8

(Marist College) Lautenberg +7

(Quinnipiac University) Lautenberg +22

(Monmouth University) Lautenberg +16

(Rasmussen Reports) Lautenberg +14

(Fairleigh Dickinson University) Lautenberg +16

So from that I get the following:

1) The Democrat outperformed the polls only in 2005 and 2006.

2) The most accurate pollsters in the state are probably Quinnipiac and Monmouth.

9 thoughts on “NJ-Gov: Will Corzine outperform the final polls?”

  1. When this is actually studied closely, it’s found that the instances are too few where New Jersey Democrats measurably outperform their polling.  And Christine Todd Whitman proved an exception in both her Senate challenge to Bradley and to her Gov challenge to Florio, although obviously both cases were dated.

    And I think there is a big difference in the current instance where we’re talking about a highly unpopular incumbent Dem, and that changes the story compared to past instances where Dems outperformed polling.  We had national pro-Dem waves in 2006 and 2008, so whatever happened then was helped by a wind at our backs that isn’t there now.  And the other instances all were no-worse-than-neutral years.

    We might be in a neutral environment now, which would contradict conventional wisdom, but even if that’s true it’s not neutral for Corzine, he’s fighting a stiff wind.

    So I really don’t expect Corzine to “outperform” polling.  If he wins, it will be by a point or two.  He could lose by 5, though, and it wouldn’t be shocking even though greatly disappointing.  If Corzine wins by even as much as 3 points, I’ll be surprised and will consider it outperforming the polls.  And I’ll attribute it to superior Democratic GOTV in New Jersey, which I understand is one thing we always have going for us there.

  2. …I would agree that the “NJ Dems overperforming” concept is either heavily overexaggerated or basically a myth.

    Menendez and Lautenberg were beloved among the Dem base, they had terribly mediocre GOP competitors, they ran in heavily pro-Dem/anti-GOP cycles, and they did considerably well among Independents.

    Corzine isn’t so much beloved among the Dem base anymore as he is trying to rile up rank-and-file Dems to loathe the GOP nominee as much as possible; Christie isn’t a great nominee, but he’s running in a cycle which isn’t pro-Dem or anti-GOP; and, with Daggett fading by the day, Christie’s on track to beat Corzine by 15% among Indies.

    Now, I obviously won’t be surprised if Corzine pulls this off, because the race is absolutely a dead heat. I also won’t be surprised if Corzine’s GOTV is lukewarm and Christie wins by 3-5%.

  3. has been in comparison to polls months prior to the election, not necessarily with respect to polls right before election day.

  4. I expect he will outperform polls.  I think a lot of Dems will hold their nose and vote for him on election day.  If he doesn’t get 45% of the vote, I’ll be surprised.

  5. I expect he will outperform polls.  I think a lot of Dems will hold their nose and vote for him on election day.  If he doesn’t get 45% of the vote, I’ll be surprised.

  6. Democrats for the past decade have outperformed polls in all high level races such as Governor and senate ONLY in non presidential years. On average this over performance is higher then 2%.

    What ever Corzines numbers are leading up to the election I’ll predict his margins gains by 2%

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