Poll: Democrat Has Slight Lead in Frelinghuysen’s District

But voters in the district prefer Republican control of Congress, poll shows

New Jersey Republican Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen announced in January that he would not seek a 13th term. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
New Jersey Republican Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen announced in January that he would not seek a 13th term. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted June 28, 2018 at 10:00am

A new poll shows New Jersey’s traditionally Republican 11th District in a near tie with the Democratic candidate holding a slight lead.

The Monmouth University poll released Wednesday showed Democratic candidate Mikie Sherrill with the support of 40 percent of voters while Republican Assemblyman Jay Webber had 38 percent.

But despite Sherrill’s slight lead, 40 percent of voters in the district want to see Republicans control Congress compared to 38 percent of voters who want to see Democrats in control.

At the same time, a majority of voters have no opinion of either candidate: 62 percent for Sherrill and 66 percent for Webber.

The partisan enthusiasm gap is making this traditionally Republican district competitive for the first time in decades, said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. While 55 percent of all voters say they have a lot of interest in the race, 67 percent of self-identified Democrats feel that way compared to 48 percent of Republicans.

“Right now this race is more about underlying partisan enthusiasm than it is about either of the two major party candidates because, to be frank, most voters don’t know much about either one of them,” Murray said. “There is still a lot of room for movement in this race with the high number of undecided voters and low level of knowledge about the candidates.”

The seat opened when Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen announced he would not seek re-election after 12 terms.

The district narrowly voted for President Donald Trump in 2016 and is divided about his performance as president, with 47 percent approving of him and 49 percent disapproving.

A slight plurality of 49 percent of voters oppose Trump on most issues compared to 43 percent who support what Trump is doing.

The district is also divided on the tax law which Frelinghuysen voted against, with 43 percent either strongly disapproving or disapproving, compared to 40 percent approving or strongly approving.

Most voters in the district think their taxes will increase because of the tax law signed last year, with 38 percent thinking their taxes will increase, 32 thinking they will stay about the same and 19 percent thinking they will decrease.

The poll was conducted from June 21 to June 25 and interviewed 406 potential voters in the district.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race for New Jersey’s 11th District as Tilt Democratic.