Cross-posted from Down with Tyranny
I feel badly that we haven't found any good progressive women running for Congress yet and that so far all the Blue America-endorsed candidates are men. On the other hand-- aside from the cycle being young-- all of our candidates for governor are women. The first person we endorsed for governor, Barbara Buono, is running against a classic male chauvinist pig as well, loudmouthed New Jersey bully Chris Christie. And old fashioned media hacks, Chris Matthews pops right into mind-- would rather treat Buono as an good-looking woman than as a serious candidate, helping them validate what they always believe-- that Christie's a lock for a landslide. He isn't. And the latest polling data from the Monmouth University / Asbury Park Press poll proves it. The race has significantly tightened since Chris Matthews and other MSNBC "liberal" pundits predicted it was all but over.
With Christie's margin down 10% now that Buono has been actively campaigning-- even with minimal media attention-- the gubernatorial horse race is the smallest margin so far. There's significant movement away from Christie and towards Buono. The poll showed Christie's approval reverting back to the negatives he had before Sandy and he received his lowest vote share in any public poll since the hurricane fiasco he used so deftly to his advantage. His favorability rating has dropped a startling 16 points since June in public polling, and his unfavorable rating is rising steadily. Christie has come under increased scrutiny for several controversial decisions in the past two months, including vetoing three bills that would have increased gun safety, spending $24 million in taxpayer money to fund a politically-motivated special election, and appearing in ads meant to boost tourism but amounted to little more than campaign ads paid for with federal funds. Many libertarian-leaning Jersey voters are furious at the way he gratuitously attacked Rand Paul and other voters have begun noting that he's tacking further right to appeal to a deranged 2016 Republican presidential primary electorate. All this is starting to undercut his brand in New Jersey.
At the same time, Buono is making steady gains in the eyes of the public. Her vote share has risen to 36%, the highest it has been to date in public polling. She wins Democrats 71% to 21%, a 50-point margin and significant improvement from earlier in the summer when she was winning Democrats by a 20-point margin. She has made gains among both men and women. Her favorability rating has improved to 27% favorable and 25% unfavorable. The fact that she achieves 36% of the vote with just a 27% favorable rating is impressive in itself; it means that at least 9% of voters opt for Buono simply out of dislike for Christie. If half the electorate were not unfamiliar with Buono, this would already be a very different race.
Obviously, Buono's main challenge at this point is to further increase her name recognition. And that costs money. The farther she can spread her message, the closer this race will get. Momentum is on her side, and we are seeing the effects of voters becoming more informed and tuning into the gubernatorial race. Forty percent of undecided voters are unfavorable toward Christie, and these voters will end up in Buono’s column. That leaves her within striking distance of Christie. A 51% majority of independent and unaffiliated voters remain unfamiliar with Buono, and as they learn more about the challenger, this race will tighten even further.
One more factor to consider about that Monmouth University poll. Statistically, it sampled more white voters and fewer African Americans, Latinos, and voters of other races than other recent public polls. Given the Democratic tilt of non-white voters, a more representative sample may well have narrowed the horse race margin even more. Meanwhile, Blue America is continuing to make replacing Chris Christie with Barbara Buono a major priority. It's an uphill battle, but no more so than replacing Al Wynn with Donna Edwards in Maryland was or replacing Ric Keller with Alan Grayson was. Blue America donors helped achieve those two feats that were dismissed as "impossible" by the exact same people who are claiming it is impossible for Barbara Buono to beat Chris Christie. Help us prove them wrong again-- right here.