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Assembly candidates in New Jersey’s 2nd Legislative District — John Armato, left, Vince Mazzeo, Phil Guenther and John Risley — debate Oct. 23 at Stockton University in Atlantic City.

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Incumbent Assemblymen Vincent Mazzeo and John Armato, both D-Atlantic, have a slight lead over Republican challengers John Risley and Philip Guenther, but it is within the margin of error of a Stockton University poll released Friday.

Mazzeo leads 2nd District polling with 27% support, with Armato at 26% in the survey of 439 likely voters, according to the Stockton Polling Institute of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy.

Risley, a Republican Atlantic County freeholder, and Guenther, superintendent of the Atlantic County Vocational School District and Special Services School District, each polled at 22%.

But despite the district being one of the state’s few battlegrounds, where either party has a shot at winning and spending has been higher than other districts, respondents’ answers indicate turnout may be low, said John Froonjian, interim executive director of the Hughes Center.

Only 439 of 614 registered voters questioned were deemed likely to vote based on screening questions, Froonjian said.

“Voters younger than 30 in particular indicated they are not likely to cast ballots,” Froonjian said. “Only 15% of respondents are following the election news very closely, and 40% are not following the race — another indication this could be a low-interest election.”

Low-turnout elections usually favor incumbents who are generally better known and better funded, Froonjian said.

“But the 2nd District is always competitive,” Froonjian said. “Partisan party control of these Assembly seats has flipped between the major parties multiple times for several decades.”

The Assembly candidates are relatively unknown despite all four holding public positions, Froonjian said.

Mazzeo, a Northfield produce store owner, is best known, with 40% saying they are not familiar with him. The unfamiliarity percentages for Armato, Risley and Guenther all ranged in the mid-50s.

Many voters have not paid close attention to some of the 2nd District issues in the news. Even an issue as long-running and high-profile as the state takeover of Atlantic City had 32% saying they were unsure about whether they support it, or didn’t know enough about the issue to have an opinion. Another 35% support the state takeover, with 26% opposed.

A takeover of Atlantic City International Airport by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was supported by 37% and opposed by 24%, with 36% unfamiliar with the issue.

President Donald Trump had higher job approval ratings than Gov. Phil Murphy, but neither is popular. Trump received excellent or good ratings from 38% of respondents, while Murphy got positive ratings from 31%. A slim majority of 51% in the district support the impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives, and 44% oppose it.

Voters were split on whether their feelings about Trump will influence their vote in the legislative election, with 49% saying it will and 51% saying their feelings will not influence them.

Interviewers working from the Stockton campus called landline and cellphones from Oct. 24 to 30. The poll’s margin of error is +/- 4.7 percentage points.

Property taxes were named as the top issue by 23% of people, and other taxes were identified as the top issue by another 19%. Health care was third at 7%, followed by the environment or climate change at 3%.

While 47% are somewhat or very dissatisfied with state efforts to create jobs in the 2nd District, 43% are very or somewhat satisfied. Ten percent are unsure or neutral.

Contact: 609-272-7219


Twitter @MichelleBPost

Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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