ENGLEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Democrat Cory Booker remains in the lead over Republican opponent Steven Lonegan with just two days to go before New Jersey’s special U.S Senate election.
A Monmouth University poll released Monday finds the Newark mayor maintaining a double-digit lead, 52 to 42 percent among likely voters.
But as WCBS 880′s Paul Murnane reported, Booker’s lead has shrunk since over the past several weeks. Booker held a 16-point edge this summer and a 13-point lead over Lonegan two weeks ago, past Monmouth polls found.
Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said races generally tighten as the finish line nears.
“While most voters say that Cory Booker is more in line with New Jersey’s views on political issues than Steve Lonegan is, there’s still a nagging doubt about Booker’s motivation – does he really want to serve the state of New Jersey or does he just want to get himself a national spotlight?” Murray told Murnane.
The poll found 48 percent of poll respondents think Booker is just trying to up his national appeal.
Murray also noted turnout might be lower than in a typical election.
“We’ve asked the voters who have voted in two of the past four elections at least – people who we know go to vote every time – and nearly ten percent of them said that they didn’t know that this special election was on Wednesday,” Murray told Murnane.
LISTEN: WCBS 880 Full Interview With Cory Booker, Oct. 14, 2013:
LISTEN: WCBS 880 Full Interview With Steve Lonegan, Oct. 14, 2013:
The Monmouth University Polling Institute surveyed 1,393 likely New Jersey voters by telephone from Oct. 10 to 12. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percent.
If they had to choose between this week’s special election and the November general, 38 percent of those polled said they’d only vote this week, up from 29 percent two weeks ago.
Meantime, a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll shows Booker with a 22-point lead over Lonegan.
The poll, released Monday afternoon, gives the Democrat a 58 to 36-point lead over his competitor.
“Other recent polls showed a narrower lead for Booker, but voters we talked to seem to have moved back in his direction,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers.
Between Oct. 7 and 13, 513 likely voters were polled by telephone. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.
As CBS 2′s Christine Sloan reported, political analysts said it’s highly unlikely that Lonegan will be able to overcome his deficits in the polls with just two days to go. But they added voter turnout will be crucial in determining the election.
Some analysts said independent voters and moderate Republicans may skip Wednesday’s vote.
BOOKER, LONEGAN MAKE FINAL CAMPAIGN PUSH
Lonegan greeted voters in Westfield on Monday morning, hoping to pick up some last-minute support.
“That’s cool momentum. So we are rolling towards a victory on Wednesday,” Lonegan told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg. ”Americans are angry with what’s happening to this country. We have a message that resonates with the voters of New Jersey and when you’re moving the way we’re moving, it’s an irreversible trend.”
The Booker campaign bus rolled into Edison on Monday, where the candidate tried to rally supporters.
“New Jerseyans are frustrated with having more people in Washington that won’t come together and work together,” Booker said. “The more they see where his views and how extreme they are and that his heroes are people like [Sen.] Ted Cruz, the more Republicans are moving away from him.”
But Lonegan argued he’s not the ideological candidate in the race.
“He’s the Hollywood candidate. So if anybody’s far extreme, he’s a far-left liberal extremist and I represent the mainstream,” he told Sandberg.
Booker also downplayed his shrinking lead in the polls.
“The polls have been all over the place and the reality is New Jerseyans have to come out and speak up,” he said.
LONEGAN CHALLENGES BOOKER’S RESIDENCY
Standing outside a three-story brick home on Hawthorne Avenue on Monday, Lonegan accused Booker of not living in the city he represents.
“Now we learn that the mayor of Newark, New Jersey doesn’t even live in Newark by all reports,” Lonegan said. “I propose he doesn’t care about Newark.”
A story posted on the conservative website The Daily Caller, citing a neighbor, claims Booker doesn’t live in New Jersey’s largest city.
“Not only does he live here, he has a gym on the second floor that I work out in on a regular basis,” a neighbor told WCBS 880′s Alex Silverman.
Booker’s campaign says the Democrat recently moved to a home on Longworth Avenue.
In an interview Monday afternoon on WCBS 880, Booker laughed off the allegation that he doesn’t live in Newark.
“This is ridiculous attempt by my opponent to distract people from his extreme views,” Booker said. “Hes trying to bring up manufactured issues which are absolutely untrue and baseless and factless.”
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