New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s near-insurmountable electoral edge has narrowed in his re-election bid as fewer Democrats back the Republican incumbent, a poll finds.
The first-term governor still holds an advantage of 20 percentage points — 56 percent to 36 percent — over Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono in the poll released today by Monmouth University in New Jersey. In prior surveys, the popular Christie has enjoyed leads of more than 30 points. Almost half of likely voters surveyed still don’t know enough about Buono to give an opinion of her, with less than three months left until the election.
Still, 71 percent of Democrats surveyed chose Buono, a 60-year-old attorney from Metuchen, while 21 percent picked Christie. In June, Buono attracted 59 percent of Democrats while Christie got 36 percent. More than two-thirds of independents, the largest voting bloc in New Jersey, side with Christie.
Democrats outnumber Republicans in New Jersey by about 700,000 registered voters, and Christie was the first Republican elected governor there since 1997. The governor has won over Democrats and independents with his leadership in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which struck the East Coast on Oct. 29.
“New Jersey Democrats are coming back home,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “But it’s not quite enough for Buono to overcome Christie’s sizable advantage among independents.”
Christie’s presidential ambitions are no surprise to New Jersey voters, the poll found. Nineteen percent said the 50-year-old governor is definitely running for president in 2016 and 60 percent said he’s probably going to run. Among those who say definitely, Christie still leads Buono, 50 percent to 39 percent.
The poll of 777 New Jersey voters likely to vote on Nov. 5 has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.