The race for Congress in New Jersey’s 7th district remains statistically tied, with a new Monmouth University poll showing Democrat Tom Malinowski with a 47%-44% lead among likely voters over five-term incumbent Leonard Lance, a number that remains within the margin of error.
Malinowski’s lead grows to five points, 48%-43%, when the Monmouth poll uses their model that includes a turnout surge in Democratic precincts. Malinowski and Lance are tied at 46% in a low turnout model.
“This is a rare district in Monmouth’s polling where we actually see the enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans getting larger rather than smaller,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
A September Monmouth Poll put Malinowski ahead 46%-43% in a standard mid-term likely voter model and up 47%-41% using the surge model.
President Donald Trump has upside-down approvals of 46%-51% in the 7th district. 48% of likely voters say they oppose what Trump is doing, while 45% support him. But those who strongly oppose Trump outnumber those who strong support him by double digits.
Hillary Clinton carried the district 48%-47% two years ago.
Malinowski leads 57%-47% among white voters with a college degree in a district that is one of the most highly educated in the U.S. Lance is ahead 53%-36% among a smaller group of non-college white voters.
Lance has favorables of 37%-34%; he was at 40%-24% in September. One-third of voters say that Lance’s political views are generally in line with his district, while 19% say he’s out of step.
Malinowski’s favorables are at 36%-23%, much better than his September 29%-16% favorables. Just 19% say Malinowski’s views are in line with the 7th; 23% view him as out of step.
“The choice for voters in this district seems to fall along the lines of whether they like their congressman more or dislike the president more,” said Murray. He added, “Lance’s reputation has taken a hit over the past month, but many voters have not formed a strong opinion of Malinowski.
Likely voters say they trust Malinowski more than Lance to keep health care affordable (40%-19%), and the candidates are tied on who they trust most to handle tax policy.
The tax reform plan passed last year by Congress continues to struggle for popularity in the 7th district. Just 38% of voters approve of the plan, while 54% disapprove.
“Tax policy is usually a slam dunk issue for Republican candidates. But Lance can’t escape voter discontent with this GOP plan, even though he voted against it,” said Murray.
Separate than their choice between Lance and Malinowski, 45% of likely voters want Democrats to control the House, while 42% prefer the Republicans stay in charge.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted from October 25-29 with 356 likely voters and has a margin of error of +/- 5.2%.Monmouth NJ7 103118