A Quinnipiac University poll released Monday morning found Newark Mayor Cory Booker with a substantial lead over his Democratic primary opponents in the New Jersey Senate special election.
As the most well-known of three Democrats expected to qualify for the primary, Booker took 53 percent, Rep. Rush D. Holt took 10 percent and Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. received 9 percent. Twenty-three percent were undecided.
Booker's name recognition and positive image — 57 percent view him favorably, 14 percent unfavorably — pushed him to the front of the pack at the starting gun of the two-month sprint to the nomination. Petitions to qualify for the primary ballots are due at 4 p.m. Monday. The primary is scheduled for Aug. 13, and the special election will take place Oct. 16.
The race to replace the late Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg has moved at a fast pace, with state Attorney General Jeff Chiesa set to be sworn in Monday afternoon for a four-month interim term.
On June 7, Holt became the first Democrat to announce his candidacy in a race the party is heavily favored to win. Booker formally entered the race on June 8, and Pallone is expected to announce at a news conference Monday afternoon.
Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver has also been collecting signatures to qualify for the Democratic primary, the Star-Ledger reported.
In the poll, Booker also led conservative activist Steve Lonegan in a hypothetical general-election matchup, 54 percent to 27 percent. Pallone led Lonegan, 39 percent to 29 percent, and Holt led 36 percent to 31 percent.
The survey questioned 858 New Jersey voters from June 6 to 9, with a margin of error of 3.4 points. The poll included 306 Democrats with a margin of error of 5.6 points.