GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, both Democrats, appear to be heading toward Election Day victories in New Jersey, according to a recent poll conducted by the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University.
However, President Donald Trump, the Republican incumbent, has strong support in the eight southernmost counties of New Jersey compared to the rest of the state.
Statewide, Biden leads Trump by 20 percentage points, 56% to 36%, among likely voters, according to the poll results. Among those who have already voted, Biden leads by 49 percentage points and holds a 13-point advantage among those who have yet to cast their ballot.
Booker holds a 25-point statewide lead — 57% to 32% — over Republican challenger Rik Mehta.
The poll, conducted Oct. 7-13, reflects heavy early mail-in voting by Democrats. According to the poll results, 1 in 5 Republican respondents has already voted, but more than half of Democrats have mailed in their ballots.
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“With more Democrats voting early than Republicans, the eventual election result will likely be closer to the 13-point spread,” said John Froonjian, executive director of the Hughes Center.
The results look different when comparing North Jersey and South Jersey.
In North Jersey, Biden leads Trump 61% to 30%. But in South Jersey — Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Ocean and Salem counties — Biden leads by two points, 47% to 45%, a statistical tie.
There also is a north-south difference in how the president is viewed. In North Jersey, 32% have a somewhat or very favorable view of Trump. In South Jersey, nearly half, or 47%, hold favorable views.
Biden is also viewed favorably by 47% in the south, but by 61% in the north.
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Statewide, Biden is viewed favorably by 56% and unfavorably by 39%. Meanwhile, only 37% of all poll respondents hold positive views of Trump, and 60% view him unfavorably.
More than half of voters statewide gave the president a poor rating on his job performance as president, while 22% gave him an excellent rating.
Froonjian noted that the 2nd and 3rd congressional districts are in South Jersey, and the House races in both are seen as competitive. Many voters see this election as a referendum on the president. That dynamic affects races in the north differently than in the south, where the Trump brand is not as toxic and where opinion is more evenly split, Froonjian said.
When voters were asked to identify the top issue in this election, 18% said the economy, while 13% cited the coronavirus pandemic and 12% named health care. In New Jersey, where COVID-19 infections have been fairly controlled since the early months of the pandemic, Gov. Phil Murphy is viewed favorably by 53% and unfavorably by 39%.
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Marijuana legalization also has strong support in New Jersey. The poll showed overwhelming support for a ballot question on legalizing marijuana, with 66% of voters saying they support a constitutional amendment to do so, while only 23% oppose. Ten percent were not sure or undecided.
The poll was conducted of 721 registered voters in New Jersey.
The statewide results have a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percentage points.
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