Republican Rep. Tom MacArthur and Democrat Andy Kim are in a statistical dead heat in the race for Congress in New Jersey’s 3rd district, according to a Monmouth University Poll releases this morning.
The poll has MacArthur leading Kim by just one percentage point, 41%-40%, among potential voters, with 15% still undecided. The poll defines potential voters as those who have voted since 2010 or recently registered to vote.
Under two different models, Kim does a little better. The Democratic challenger leads 45%-44% using traditional turnout, and 46%-33% using a model that anticipates a turnout surge in Democratic precincts.
“The different media markets mean that voters in the 3rd may not see the same campaign playing out. The high number of competitive districts in the Philadelphia media market should lead to independent organization spending designed to gin up the partisan bases. This could spark higher turnout in the western portion of the district, which would boost Kim’s chances,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. He added, “On the other hand, MacArthur would benefit if there is a surge among Trump supporters in the eastern part of the district if they see this race as a referendum on the president.”
Neither candidate boosts tremendous name recognition. MacArthur has an approval rating of 30%-19%, while Kim is at 20%-11%.
“There isn’t a lot of daylight separating these two candidates on the issues mainly because voters have not been paying attention. It will be interesting to see which way the dial moves once they do,” said Murray.
President Donald Trump has an upside-down 46%-49% approval rating in the Ocean-Burlington house district. MacArthur, according to the poll, 31% of voters say that MacArthur has supported Trump appropriately, while 25% say he has been too supporting of the president. Another 7% say MacArthur hasn’t supported Trump enough.
Voters are split on whether Democrats (38%) or Republicans (36%) should control the House; another 24% say that party control does not matter to them. Burlington voters prefer seeing the Democrats in the majority by a 17 point margin (46% to 29%) while Ocean voters prefer want a Republican Congress by a nearly identical 19 point margin (46% to 27%).
“Both candidates will need a combination of tactics to motivate their base and persuade undecided voters. The relative weight they give to these strategies is going to play out differently in the eastern and western parts of the district for each campaign,” said Murray.