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NJ Gov: Is Corzine Coming Back?

Can Gov. Jon Corzine win this fall in New Jersey? AP Photo/Mel Evans

New Jersey and national Democrats have spent the last few weeks insisting that Gov. Jon Corzine is making a comeback in a race that as recently as last month looked unwinnable for him.

As evidence, they cite the barrage of negative stories about former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie (R) as well as a new Monmouth University poll that shows Christie's lead shrinking nearly in half in the last month. "This race has been getting closer for more than a month and almost every poll shows that," said pollster Joel Benenson who has been working with Corzine since August.

Is Benenson -- and the rest of the Democratic establishment -- right?

Yes, but only to a point.

Let's first take a look at all of the polling on the race -- courtesy of our friends at

As you can see, Christie's number has been dropping steadily since July. After a slew of polls showed Christie not only leading Corzine by double digits but also over the crucial 50 percent mark, the Republican nominee has broken 50 percent in only two polls -- Monmouth and Quinnipiac -- conducted since August 1. (Christie has also been over 50 percent in two Rasmussen polls but the facts that Rasmussen is an auto-dialed survey AND they don't release much of the methodology on their surveys makes us skeptical of the data.)

Corzine's problem is that even as Christie's numbers have dropped, his numbers have stayed about the same. Of the 10 polls conducted since the start of August, Corzine's share of the vote has never gone higher than 42 percent and generally hovers in the 39/40 percent range.

Even in the Monmouth poll that Democrats are touting, Corzine is only receiving 39 percent of the vote -- not exactly a strong showing for a politician who has spent more than a $100 million of his own money over the past decade in runs for Senate and governor.

"No incumbent governor or U.S. Senator has ever won re-election polling at or around 40 percent in September," said one Democratic strategist who has worked in the Garden State. "It would take a miracle for Corzine to pull this one out."

Not all Democrats are so pessimistic. Many point to the fact that in nearly every election cycle Republicans look like they might pull out a victory in New Jersey only to see the Democratic candidate ultimately prevail. (Republicans have touted their chances of winning the Garden State in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections, the 2000, 2002 and 2006 Senate races and and the governor's race in 2005.)

The reason for the lack of GOP success? New Jersey voters pay very little attention to politics but when they do finally dial in to the political season, they tend to revert back to their Democratic tendencies.

"This has always been the toughest state in the nation to communicate in because there is no media market in the state," said Benenson. "That's why elections are won in September and October when candidates drive their message in the paid media."

There's little question that Corzine's immense personal wealth ensures he will drastically outspend Christie in the stretch run. But, Corzine has already poured millions of dollars into television ads across the state only to see his numbers stay, essentially, unchanged.

What, then, to make of the Corzine comeback narrative? It is more accurately painted as a Christie comedown story as the challenger has seen political gravity begin to reassert itself in the last month. No Republican will ever win New Jersey by double digits.

Given New Jersey's Democratic tilt -- and some evidence from the Monmouth poll that Democrats are coming home to Corzine -- it is likely the race will continue to tighten somewhat over the next weeks.

But, even as Christie comes back to the pack a bit, there's little evidence that Corzine has solved the problem of how to move his numbers beyond the lows 40s -- a major issue (still) for the incumbent.

By Chris Cillizza  |  September 14, 2009; 10:58 AM ET
Categories:  Governors  
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I don't think there are enough dead people in Hudson County to pull off a Corzine victory (before anyone tells me that's a myth, bear in mind that I personally know someone who had to rip her dead husband's card out of the voting books, after numerous attempts to get his card taken out, to stop him from voting while dead) but I suppose Corzine could spends tens of millions more of his Goldman Sachs money (before anyone accuses me of anti-Semitism, Corzine isn't Jewish) to slime Christie and that might work. What I think is more likely is that if they think Corzine can't win, they'll do a Torricelli/Lautenberg switcheroo with the much better liked Richard Codey saving Corzine's seat for the Democrats.

Posted by: Question_Assumptions | September 15, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

reason5, pls eml me at

Posted by: mark_in_austin | September 14, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Corzine will in NJ. This is not because Cillizia is a dem or because of the media.

It is simply because his opponent has failed to offer the voters of NJ a choice.

NJ is in tough shape. Corzine is probably doing the best anyone can do with the situation that we are in.

The GOP cannot simply ride the mood of voter discontent into Morven, they actually have to offer an alternative.

To date there is no plan, no personnel, no message from the GOP, other than, "our guy ain't Corzine."

Posted by: pach12 | September 14, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse


To which version of your post do you want me to respond?

Posted by: JakeD | September 14, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I think New Jersey is still going to come down to the wire. You can never count Corzine out, just knowing his personal wealth is great and his willingness to spend to win is there. There is no denying that Christie is the favorite to win. With the Independent candidate in the race, I think that erode's Corzine's vote toal even futhur, especially with environmentalists. Many of those environmental folks would have looked at voting for Christie, but would ultimately returned home and voted for Corzine. The independent candidacy of Chris Daggett will attract some moderates who would have ultimately closed their noses and vote for Corzine. What will happen now? Daggett will be in that media blitz just like Christie & Corzine. Daggett will siphon some votes away from Christie, but a whole lot away from Corzine. In fact, some columnists suggest a huge upset and suggest that Daggett, in the end, will have a shot to win this race. I don't see it. He does have the endorsement of the Sierra Club, but that's hardly enough to win the governor's seat. However put, Daggett will have a major impact on the New Jersey Governor's race. I predict Christie to win a close race.

Posted by: reason5 | September 14, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Why is Cillizza masquerading as an objective journalist when everyone knows that he is a die-hard right winger?
Sounds alot like fraud to everyone who sees this guy.

Posted by: diamondvision | September 14, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Why is Cillizza masquerading as an objective journalist when everyone knows that he is a die-hard right winger?
Sounds alot like fraud to everyone who sees this guy.

Posted by: diamondvision | September 14, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Why does Cillizza masquerade as an objective journalist when everyone knows that he is a die-hard right winger?
This is a legitimate question and not an ad hominum attack.
Who does he think he is fooling?
People aren't that stupid.
This sounds like fraud to everyone.

Posted by: diamondvision | September 14, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

NJ and VA are going to be much closer than early polls predicted. No surprise there.

Posted by: nodebris | September 14, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse


As you well know, NJ has been for the Republicans a sort of 'fata morgana' in the desert. The Christie Whitman thing was a fluke, which has served to give the R.s this perpetual, but almost as frequently dashed, hope. Look at Lautenberg. Look at Menendez.

As so often happens, the closer the election gets, the tighter it becomes. Not that Corzine is out of the woods by any means, and NO incumbent is 'safe' under 50-percent (as well you know), but I'd be somewhat less surprised if McDonnell won in VA over Deeds than if Corzine managed to pull it out over Christie (who is no sweet-smelling rose from what I hear).

Posted by: sverigegrabb | September 14, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Referring to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll released moments earlier, Stephanopoulos shared numbers with host Diane Sawyer indicating the President's speech wasn't the game-changer Democrats and the Obama-loving media had hoped.

Split on Obama's handling of health care: 48-48 (46-50 August 17)
Support Obama's health care reforms: 46-48 (45-50 August 17)
President Obama's job approval is at 54 (57 August 17)
Deficit: 65% think health care reform will make it worse
Medicare: 56% of seniors think it will weaken Medicare
On the crucial "what's in it for me?" question, twice as many Americans (32-16) think it will make their own care worse, twice as many (40-20) think it will increase their costs, and more than three times as many (37-11) think it will hurt their coverage.

Exit question: will other media outlets share the bad news from this poll?

Poor barry, sinking lower and lower. Maybe a speech at the UN would help. He could introduce Khaddaffi or Amajornutjob.

Huckabee wrote in a post on his political action committee’s blog. “The once esteemed 4th estate of our nation and the protector of our freedoms and a watchdog of our rights has passed away after a long struggle with a crippling and debilitating disease of acute dishonesty aggravated by advanced laziness and the loss of brain function

“Journalism had grown increasingly dependent on spin-doctor spoon feeding and the circular and insular quoting of other journalists instead of attempting to locate and quote actual first person sources,” Huckabee added. “No memorial is planned as the practitioners of propaganda seem to be unaware that they have passed away and continue to publish anyway.”

Posted by: snowbama | September 14, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

"Saved or Created 'X' Number of Jobs"

most of them are czars or first lady staff positions.

except Van Jones of course, the green, red, black activist.

On the subject of town halls and marching in the streets and fox news - if only we had some sort of police force to shut these lunatics up - like a Gestapo or a Stazi or KGB or something. Stay tuned.

Posted by: snowbama | September 14, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

JakeD - at least one promise was fulfilled. global warming has seemed to go away. He really is the Messiah.

Imagine altering thousands of years of warming into a decidely coling trend simply by pulling the left lever in the voting booth.

I hope al gore banked some of his ill gotten gain. I think his 15 minutes is thankfully up.

Posted by: snowbama | September 14, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Christie will also promise no new taxes but not tell voters about any sacrifices they might have to make in order to pay less in taxes. There is a free lunch! Bush said the same thing, but with the huge advantage that the federal government can keep running up deficits, and when Bush did that, the fiscal conservatives marching now kept silent.

Posted by: Sutter | September 14, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse


I believe that the new catch-phrase (completely unprovable) is "Saved or Created 'X' Number of Jobs". LOL!!!

Posted by: JakeD | September 14, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

didn't thorazine promise to lower taxes, to provide jobs (or at least save some), to buttress home prices, to eliminate corruption, etc?

sound familiar?

As usual, the Dems fail at everything they promise, then when it is time for reelection, the voters are not fooled a second time.

I boldly predict the same thing will happen to what's his name, in the WH. you know, the liar in chief.

Posted by: snowbama | September 14, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Sticking to my prediction. Corzine is toast. Deeds pulls it out.

Posted by: DDAWD | September 14, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse


At least I didn't make any joke about him not wearing his seatbelt ; )

Posted by: JakeD | September 14, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse


* Warrantless covert GPS/cellphone tracking of unjustly targeted citizens is the electronic backbone of a nationwide, extrajudicial vigilante Gestapo that makes a mockery of the rule of law. When will President Obama issue an executive order banning it?

As U.S. attorney, Chris Christie approved the covert tracking via cellphones of so-called "targeted" citizens" without first obtaining a court warrant, according to the New Jersey office of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Covert GPS tracking, using cellphones and covertly implanted GPS beacons secreted in or on the vehicles of so-called "targets," is the telecommunications backbone of a Bush-Cheney- spawned extrajudicial targeting and punishment apparatus -- a nationwide Gestapo-like network that continues under a naive or misinformed Obama administration.

This extra-legal Gestapo is destroying lives and livelihoods of many thousands of unjustly targeted U.S. citizens by way of organized vigilante "community stalking" and an array of secret "programs of personal financial destruction."

Many of the civilian community stalkers are affiliated with federally funded volunteer community policing and anti-terrorism programs that target those considered to be political "dissidents" or "trouble-makers" -- what victims say amounts to an ideologically-driven campaign of "social cleansing."

Victims also allege that they are physically tortured with silent, injury- and illness-inducing microwave and laser radiation "directed energy weapons" deployed under programs administered by various federal agencies. This weaponization of the electromagnetic spectrum has profound implications for society, because this silent technology makes possible the "perfect crime" -- the undetectable application of potentially deadly force.

Candidate Christie and the federal officials who have enabled warrantless tracking of American citizens should be held to account for a wholesale violation of constitutional rights.

For more: *

OR (if link is corrupted / disabled):

See "GESTAPO USA" at ("stream" or "stories" list).

Posted by: scrivener50 | September 14, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Corzine has at least been trying to address the fiscal mess that goes back 20 years and involves both political parties. There are no Saints in the race. The Christie campaign has not yet offered anything other than platitudes on property taxes and other economic issues. Daggett (the independent) is garnering more support than anyone anticipated, and his draw is going to hurt Christie more than Corzine. A close race, down to the wire.

Posted by: wjk1 | September 14, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

what a sicko.

Posted by: drindl | September 14, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only one who thinks this photo of Gov. Jon Corzine with a "gun to his head" is kinda funny?

Posted by: JakeD | September 14, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

As New Jersey residents start to pay attention to this race, and as they realize what a creepy hard right bush republicon criminal christy is the race will go to Corzine.

Posted by: John1263 | September 14, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

corzine and his buddies raided the treasury and left America in debt...
if you reelect him, you get what you deserve...
after all...
what has he done lately...
did he create any jobs...
well...did he...

Posted by: DwightCollins | September 14, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

The question will be if the independent candidate can pick up enough votes off of Christie to drag him down below 40%. If Corzine can turn this into a 'devil that you know' contest then he wins. And I think that he has the money to do just that.

Posted by: AndyR3 | September 14, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Barry Soetoro Barack Hussein Obama II is of course another one. That's why, having conquered the US presidency from the far, far, outasight Left, while covering up his true identity, he now feels the craving to preside over the UN Security Council for the first time in history. Being President doesn't satisfy Mr. Obama. He must be the Second Coming of Christ, giving lasting peace to all the peoples of the world whether they like it or not. Swallow that ObamaCare, kid, or else.

David Horowitz, who's been there and studied the Left all his life, says the Left is always chasing personal meaning, without the traditional option of choosing religion. That is why the atheist Left must attack all human religions -- about as dumb an idea as attacking biological gender. (Oh, they've done that, too? You don't say?). There are lots of atheists in the world, but the militant critics of religion are not just atheists. They are atheists in endless search of meaning in their lives, and never quite able to find a world that will keep them stable. So they keep bouncing around to find new saviors.

Obama is now a Savior for the same folks who looked upon Bill Clinton as their Savior in the 1990s. When Obama gets boring after a while, they'll be looking for another one.

Barry Soetoro is still chasing that elusive identity that will finally stabilize his life. The next time you see another one of those vastly over-confident speeches of his, echoing and echoing as he grooves to the sound of his own voice, just notice that he always sounds like Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments, but the words keep on changing.

‘Cause you can never get enough of being something you're not.

Posted by: snowbama | September 14, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Where are you in NJ, dee? I have lots of friends and relatives there and they all think corzine will take it -- christie's too creepy.

I agree with you. CC's ability to predict races is really starting to suffer from his biases and wishful thinking.

Posted by: drindl | September 14, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

It will be interesting. Corzine has only himself to blame. If a democratic incumbent in a deep blue state is losing by 8-10 points with a democratic president who still has a positive approval rating in the state, he only has himself to blame. It would be the same way for a republican governor in a red state in '02 or '04. Corzine has to realize the election is a referendum on his career not Christie. It's just like the presidential election was a referendum on Bush. It's why Obama won easily even though both candidates actually had similar job approval ratings. Swing voters liked McCain, but they wanted 'change' and that is the likely scenario facing Corzine, except people don't like Corzine.

Posted by: TexasProud1 | September 14, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Strange how eager rightwingers are to hand all their money over to Wall Street and let them do what they want with it -- and melt the economy down all over again.

How odd that regulation that would save taxpayers money is so repellent to them. Masochistic and kinky.

Posted by: drindl | September 14, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I live in NJ. Corzine is not popular here, but Christie is widely viewed as an untrustworthy, Rove-style Republican pol. So I predict that Corzine will win in a squeaker as the national GOP continues to define itself by its bigoted lunatic element and the economy slowly recovers.

Posted by: dee5 | September 14, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Chris should have learned how to do the moonwalk from MJ. It's easier to do than all of this walking back of his predictions of GOP dominance coming back and the NJ and VA gov races being an indictment on Obama. Brought to you by the same guy who thinks Chip "Barack the Magic Negro" CD Saltzman is the furthest thing from a racist.

Posted by: katem1 | September 14, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

But just to keep it in perspective we should remind everyone that Obama's call for more financial regulatory control is exactly what got us into this "crisis" in the first place. Remember the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977. That act was, at the time, one of the most intrusive attempts on the part of government to control financial lending practices. It resulted in the subprime mortgage market and most of us know "the rest of the story," as Paul Harvey would say.

This is not looking good. Not at all. You would figure the Law of Averages would give them one at some point, but that has not been the case. Even the Cash for Clunkers giveaway was a colossal imbroglio.

Maybe, just maybe, it is time for Congress to stop rubber-stamping everything Obama wants to do (spending, spending...) and begin to do its homework. Somebody's got to put Humpty Dumpty together again. Team Obama certainly is not having much success in doing so.

Posted by: snowbama | September 14, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

NJ lives and breathes by Wall street.

too bad Obama is in charge:

After spending nearly $700 billion of taxpayer money that he did not have to "fix" the financial industry's crisis we learn that Obama's fix did not work and we are in just as bad shape now as before he spent all that money. And it is money that he is having to borrow, mainly from the Communist Chinese. We are already beginning to see signs of the problems in the value of the U. S. dollar on the world currency markets and the enormous increase in the money supply which will surely cause increased inflation in the future.

Spending all that money, and not fixing the problem is insanity in our book. But not only do the practical aspects of Team Obama's economic policies bother us, what really bothers us even more is the lack of confidence we have that Team Obama knows what it is doing.

Think about it. What has he done that has worked? We can't think of a single instance of real success

Posted by: snowbama | September 14, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

as the public is finding out, christie is a consummate sleazebag. my guess is that turnout will be rock bottom and corzine, though not that popular, will still win.

Posted by: drindl | September 14, 2009 11:31 AM | Report abuse

NJ will keep Corzine. Christie is a Rove acolyte, which is a disaster.

Posted by: mstratas | September 14, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Even if he does, it will be no thanks to pResident Obama.

Posted by: JakeD | September 14, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

The recovery has a flat.
If it is received wisdom a month from now that the recovery has stalled (stimulus failed, etc.), Corzine has no chance.

Posted by: shrink2 | September 14, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Its the economy.

Posted by: shrink2 | September 14, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

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