Sunday, October 29, 2006


Recent Rasmussen and NY Times polls showed the New Jersey Senate race tied, but a Research 2000 poll conducted for The Bergen Record gives Democrat Bob Menendez a 48%-42% lead over his Republican challenger, Tom Kean Jr:

The poll found voters believe Kean is more trustworthy by a 49 percent to 36 percent ratio, and they personally like Kean more than Menendez, 48 percent to 33 percent.

But even among people who consider Kean more trustworthy, 35 percent are voting for Menendez, apparently because other factors are more important.

Thirty percent of voters said the Iraq war was the most important issue in deciding their vote, compared with 10 percent who said corruption. Voters also want to see Democrats rather than Republicans control Congress -- by a margin of 18 percentage points, 53 percent to 35 percent.

To control the Senate, Democrats need to pick up six seats nationwide and not lose any. Menendez occupies the only vulnerable Democratic seat, political handicappers say, and both parties have spent millions of dollars on ads here in recent weeks.

Basically, New Jersey voters think Menendez is a sleazeball but the Republican-led Congress and the Bush administration are even bigger sleazeballs and they want to seem their power curtailed.

I guess it will come down to turnout. Given that it's New Jersey, I suspect Democratic turnout will be better than the GOP GOTV operation, but with Republicans throwing over $3 million dollars into negative ads for this last week of campaigning in both the Philly and New York television markets, the race could go either way.

Up in Maryland, The Cook Report changed the Senate race between Democrat Ben Cardin and Republican Michael Steele to Toss Up from Lean Democrat, but a new Washington Post poll released today shows Cardin with a fairly hefty 11 point lead, 54%-43%. Notice too that Cardin is polling above 50%, always a good sign for a candidate.

Menendez, on the other hand, is polling well under 50% in New Jersey, which seems to underscore just how vulnerable he is in his race.

If I had to guess, I'd say Cardin is going to win the Maryland race (and Republicans may know this too because they haven't thrown any money into the state despite claims by the GOP that Steele has a real shot to beat Cardin and take a "must win" Senate seat away from Dems) while the Menendez/Kean race is going to come down to the wire and and any last minute gaffe, allegation or ad could possibly swing the race one way or another. Which means Menendez must use the vast resources of the New Jersey Democratic Party and his own superior campaign fund advantage to paint a vote for Kean as a vote for Preznit Bush, Vice Preznit Cheney, the Republican-led Congress, and more of the same in the Iraq war and the class war against the middle and working classes.

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