Democrats are making New Jersey’s 5th District a top target this year, and new polling from the House Majority PAC suggests that the group’s investment in the district’s expensive media market may be paying off.
Democrat Josh Gottheimer led seven-term Republican Rep. Scott Garrett 48 percent to 41 percent in the poll released Tuesday by the Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group.
In April, Garrett led Gottheimer 52 to 33 percent. By August, that lead had narrowed to 8 points, according to Garin-Hart-Yang. A late-August GBA Strategies poll conducted for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee put Garrett ahead by 2 points.
The latest poll surveyed 401 likely voters from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 and had a margin of error of 5 percentage points.
Since June, House Majority PAC has invested nearly $1.5 million attacking the Garrett and painting him as out of touch with northern New Jersey voters.
In particular, the congressman has taken heat for refusing to pay dues to the National Republican Congressional Committee because of its support for gay candidates. Garrett’s stance has hurt his fundraising. He serves on the Financial Services Committee, and the industry has traditionally been a strong backer. But some of that industry money has since dried up for him.
Meanwhile, Gottheimer, a former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton, has proven to be a strong fundraiser.
Thirty percent of likely voters viewed Gottheimer favorably, while 14 percent viewed him unfavorably, according to the latest Garin-Hart-Yang poll. Thirty-two percent of likely voters viewed Garrett favorably, compared to 35 percent who viewed him unfavorably.
Over the past two months, Gottheimer’s name recognition has increased from 34 to 63 percent.
Mitt Romney and John McCain narrowly carried this district, which includes some New York City bedroom communities as well as more rural areas in the northwestern part of the Garden State. This poll also gives Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton a 7-point edge here over Republican rival Donald Trump.