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New Jersey Senate Race a Dead Heat

Democrat Frank Lautenberg, seeking a fifth term in the U.S. Senate, is in a virtual tie with Republican challenger Dick Zimmer in New Jersey, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey.

Forty-five percent (45%) of likely voters in the predominantly Democratic state favor Lautenberg, while 44% are backing Zimmer, a former U.S. congressman who is running as a fiscal conservative.

The survey was taken 24 hours after Lautenberg, capturing over 60% of the vote, easily defeated another congressman, Robert Andrews, in the state's Democratic primary. Andrews, 50, who was endorsed by most of the state's newspapers, had aggressively attacked the incumbent for his age, but the sparse turnout at the polls and the size of Lautenberg's win indicate that the criticism did not stick with voters.

The 84-year-old Lautenberg countered by painting Andrews as too supportive of President Bush's policies including the war in Iraq, an issue where New Jersey voters break with the national average by overwhelmingly supporting a withdrawal of troops over winning the war.

But Lautenberg, despite primary support from Gov. Jon S. Corzine and other top state Democratic leaders, has some fence-building to do in his own party. While 83% of Republican voters support Zimmer, only 70% of Democrats are backing Lautenberg. Twenty-four percent (24%) of Democrats prefer Zimmer and 5% some other candidate.

Lautenberg is viewed at least somewhat favorably by 48% of New Jersey voters and at least somewhat unfavorably by 47%. Zimmer has an edge here, with 46% of voters at least somewhat favorable to him while only 38% rate him at least somewhat unfavorable.

Historically, however, New Jersey often shows Republicans competitive with Democrats until the fall when the latter pull away decisively. A Republican has not won a statewide election in the Garden State since 1997.

Female voters favor Lautenberg over Zimmer 49% to 40%, with the numbers exactly reversed for male voters who give the Republican the edge.

Given Lautenberg's liberal voting record in the Senate, it is no surprise that conservatives overwhelmingly support Zimmer (79%) over the incumbent (13%). By contrast, liberals back the Democrat (70%), but 22% support the Republican. Moderates give the nod to Lautenberg (49%) over Zimmer (39%), with 6% looking for a third party candidate and 6% undecided.

The new survey also finds that 37% of New Jersey voters rate their Governor's performance as poor. Twenty-nine percent (29%) give Corzine good or excellent marks.

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New Jersey Likely Democratic

Latest RR Poll

RR Poll Avg.

RR Mkts.

In Trade

2002 Results

Zimmer (R)




Lautenberg (D)




This telephone survey of 500 Likely Voters was conducted by Rasmussen Reports on June 4, 2008. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 4.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

See Methodology.

Favorable Ratings for Senate Candidates in New Jersey




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Rasmussen Reports - Electoral College Balance of Power Summary





Toss-Ups & Leaners


About Rasmussen Reports

Rasmussen Reports is an electronic publishing firm specializing in the collection, publication, and distribution of public opinion polling information.

The Rasmussen Reports ElectionEdgeâ„¢ Premium Service for Election 2008 offers the most comprehensive public opinion coverage ever provided for a Presidential election.

Scott Rasmussen, president of Rasmussen Reports, has been an independent pollster for more than a decade.