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October 27, 2006
Kean More Than Holding His Own

Thomas Kean, Jr has shown surprising strength against an incumbent Democrat in New Jersey, not normally known for its kindness to Republicans. He has tied Robert Menendez in the latest New York Times/CBS poll -- and that seems surprising in itself, considering the track record of CBS polls:

Thomas H. Kean Jr., the Republican challenger for United States Senate in New Jersey, has capitalized on his father’s reputation to offset voters’ qualms about his inexperience. Senator Robert Menendez has been buoyed by discontent with President Bush. The result in this heavily Democratic state is an extremely tight race, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.

The poll suggests that Mr. Kean, a state senator, has done surprisingly well in a year when other Republicans are struggling even on friendlier turf not because of Mr. Kean himself, but because of his father, former Gov. Thomas H. Kean, one of the state’s most popular politicians.

Mr. Kean’s commercials attacking Mr. Menendez as unethical and corrupt have also worked, with many voters saying that corruption is the first thing that springs to mind when asked about Mr. Menendez.

Mr. Menendez is widely considered the nation’s most vulnerable Democratic Senate incumbent, as the Democrats try to win six seats to take control of the Senate, and 56 percent of his supporters said they would vote for him not because of his views or his character, but because of his party.

The poll has Menendez up by a point among likely voters, 40-39. When adding in leaners, the two tie at 43 each, with 11 unsure (the other three percent will vote for other candidates). Thirty-nine percent say they could still change their minds, almost half of all who chose one or the other.

As usual, though, the sample tells an interesting story. The gap between Democrats and Republicans seems rather wide in the sample. On page 15 of the analysis, we find that the sample consisted of 22% Republicans, but 35% each for Democrats and independents. Those numbers don't match up with the figures announced last May for party affiliation for the primary election. Out of 4,837,943 registered voters, 1137312 were Democrats, 878906 were Republicans, and 2820183 were unaffiliated or independent. The percentages in New Jersey are:

Democrats: 23.5%
Republicans: 18.2%
Unaffiliated: 58.3%

Obviously, the NYT/CBS sample doesn't come close to reflecting that breakdown. They've underpolled independents and overpolled both Democrats and Republicans, especially Democrats. They increased Democrats by 48% of their actual standing and Republicans by only 21%, while reducing independents by 40 percent.

Do you think that might have skewed the support more than slightly to Menendez by pumping up the effect of the Democrats polled in this sample? I'd say it's a good possibility. Kean looks like he may actually have a lead, if the sample had been properly taken. Menendez appears to be in bigger trouble than the NYT or CBS wants to admit.

Addendum: I notice that 59% of the respondents to this poll had an annual income of $50,000 or higher, and 73% better than $30,000 (around $15 per hour). What was that about the economy again?

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at October 27, 2006 5:51 AM

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Tracked on October 28, 2006 6:29 AM


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