In its first survey of likely voters, a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday found Newark Mayor Cory Booker's lead in next month's New Jersey Senate special election down to 12 points.
Booker, favored to win the Oct. 16 special in this Democratic-leaning state, led 53 percent to 41 percent over Republican Steve Lonegan, with 5 percent undecided.
Quinnipiac and other polling firms had Booker ahead by leads at least twice as large in previous surveys. It's also smaller than President Barack Obama's 17-point winning margin in the state last year.
"Today’s results could be driven by the bad news about Newark crime, plus the publicity about Booker’s business ventures,” Quinnipiac polling director Maurice Carroll said. “But if it's not a blow-out, it still looks like a comfortable lead for Booker. New Jersey is a blue state and it hasn’t elected a Republican senator — let alone a conservative one — since Sen. Clifford Case in 1972.”
Booker remains far more well-known than Lonegan, with 53 percent holding a favorable opinion of him and 43 percent still not knowing enough about Lonegan to form an opinion. Booker leads among women by a 60 percent to 34 percent margin, while men split their vote, 48 percent for Lonegan and 46 percent for Booker.
The survey of 948 likely voters was conducted Sept. 19-22 and had a 3.2-point margin of error.