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Poll: All five NJ GOP House seats in play

Dems have 19-point advantage on generic House ballot

By David Wildstein, April 16 2018 12:16 pm

President Donald Trump has an upside-down 34%-61 approval rating in New Jersey, according to a Monmouth University Poll released today.

The poll says that Democrats have a 19-point advantage over Republicans in a generic House ballot, which has the potential to “switch all five congressional seats currently held by Republicans” in New Jersey.

“This is pretty astounding. Not only are New Jersey Democrats doing better on the generic House ballot statewide, but the shift is coming almost entirely from districts currently held by the GOP. If these results hold, we could be down to just one or two – or maybe even zero – Republican members in the state congressional delegation after November,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

According to the poll, Trump’s unpopularity in New Jersey is among the factors for the favorable political environment for Democrats in New Jersey. In the five districts that have a Republican congressman, Trump’s approvals are upside-down, 43%-53%.  Trump is at 29%-66% in the seven Democratic House districts.

Voters will certainly take a closer look at the quality of the candidates nominated by the Democratic Party in each of these seats this fall. That could certainly change the equation in any individual district,” Murray said.  “However, these results suggest that New Jersey Republicans are facing hurricane-force headwinds right now.”

In 2016, Democratic congressional candidates won the statewide House vote by eight points — 53%-45% — and by just two points — 50%-48%) in 2014.  The poll finds that the overall swing is from the Republican House seats.    Among the five congressional seats now held by Republicans — the LoBiondo, MacArthur, Smith, Lance, Frelinghuysen seats — voter preference is at 46% Republican, 44% Democratic.  In the last two congressional elections, these five districts averaged out to a 22-point advantage for the GOP:59%-38% in 2016 and 61%-38% in 2014.

In the seven districts that sent a Democrat to Congress — Norcross, Gottheimer, Pallone, Sires, Pascrell, Payne and Watson-Coleman — Democrats have a 50%-28% edge.  That’s in line with the typical 30-point advantage for Democrats over the last two cycles: 65%-32% in 2016 and 62%-36% in 2014.

Murray says that Trump’s opposition to the Gateway tunnel won’t have much impact on the 2018 races because most New Jersey commuters come from Democratic districts.

“I’ve seen a lot of reporting on how the Gateway project could be the hot button issue in the 2018 House races in New Jersey. I’ve had my doubts and these numbers back that up. Yes, two-thirds of rail commuters say this project is important to them, but the overwhelming majority of these folks live in districts that are already safely controlled by Democrats. Even in the two North Jersey seats currently held by Republicans, rail commuters are largely Democratic partisans to begin with,” Murray said.  “There could be an impact if the contests in those two districts are close and this issue spurs some Democrats who do not usually vote in midterms to turn out this time. I am not discounting the importance of that, but it will be marginal in the grand scheme of the 2018 campaign.”

And just four out of ten New Jersey voters say the Trump tax plan will have a major impact the congressional vote.

“Much of the impact of the tax reforms is already baked into Congressional vote preferences. The key factor now seems to be how it will affect turnout. Democrats are more motivated by this issue than Republicans,” said Murray.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from April 6-10, 2018 with 703 New Jersey adults, including a subset of 632 registered voters.  The results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percent for the full sample and +/- 3.9 percent for voters.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.


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