An early poll suggested that John McCain would carry New Jersey if he had won the Republican nomination for president in 2000.
McCain led Al Gore in New Jersey by thirteen points, 51%-38%, according to a February 24, 2000 Quinnipiac University poll taken three weeks after McCain upset George W. Bush in the New Hampshire GOP primary.
In New Jersey, McCain had approvals of 46%-12%, compared to 29%-28% for Gore and 29%-41% for Bush. McCain’s favorable were at 51%-12% among Republicans, 38%-14% among Democrats, and a lopsided 53%-10% among independents.
McCain’s popularity in New Jersey came mostly from his strength among Democrats and Independents. In a Republican primary faceoff, McCain and Bush were tied at 41% each.
Still, the favorite in New Jersey was a favorite son, Bill Bradley. The former three-term Senator had approvals of 54%-13% and led McCain 49%-38% in a contest for New Jersey’s fifteen electoral votes.
Gore wound up carrying New Jersey by sixteen points, 56%-40%. If Republicans had nominated McCain, it’s possible that Bob Franks might have upset Jon Corzine in the race for U.S. Senate – with Bush not competing in New Jersey, Corzine won 50%-47%. Dick Zimmer, who lost a House race that year to freshman Democrat Rush Holt by just 651 votes, would have almost certainly won.