Before Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, the current chair Democratic Governors Association, gets too excited about his New Jersey colleague Jim Corzine’s chances of re-election this fall, he should study return for another northeastern gubernatorial election when, as in the current Garden State race, there was a third party candidate with deep pockets polling at about 10%.
You see, Schweitzer’s getting all excited that a spate of recent polls shows “Corzine, who has trailed in every survey, narrowing the gap with Christie into or near the margin-of-error.” And the media, ever quick to repeat Democratic talking points, have echoed Schweitzer. Problem is, as Stuart Rothenberg points out that Corzine hasn’t increased his standing in the contest:
Corzine’s chances of winning re-election now are no better than they were a month ago. The governor continues to be stuck between 38 percent and 42 percent in the ballot test, where he has been for many months, and the fundamentals of the race continue to favor the Republican challenger.
To be sure, Republican challenger Chris Christie has slipped in polls, likely due to a lackluster campaign and Corzine attack ads. ANd Third-party candidate, Chris Daggett, “a former official in Republican Gov. Tom Kean’s administration,” has picked up the slack, siphoning off some of Christie’s support, rising “to to 12 percent in the most recent Quinnipiac poll“.
Similarly, fifteen years ago in New York, as that state’s gubernatorial election drew toward a close, polls showed B. Thomas Golisano Golisano, a Rochester millionaire running on the Independence Fusion ticket “drawing considerable support away from [Republican challenger George] Pataki”
Three new polls, one released by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in Poughkeepsie, another by Newsday and WABC-TV and a third conducted for The Daily News and WNBC-TV by Louis Harris & Associates, show Mr. Pataki’s lead over Mr. Cuomo disappearing amid Mr. Cuomo’s negative advertising and the heavy spending of the Independence Fusion candidate, B. Thomas Golisano.
Replace the names from that October 28, 1994 New York Times article and you’d have a recent media report from the New Jersey race. And while polls that year showed Golisano pulling it about 8% of the vote, on Election Day, he managed barely half that at the ballot box. New Yorkers opting for the third-party candidate during the campaign shifted their support at the last minute to the Republican challenger.
With Governor Corzine’s approval hovering at around 60%, expect that on Election Day, a lot of those now pulling for Daggett will do as a healthy chunk of Golisano’s sometime supporters did and cast their support for the Republican challenger. They’ll realize a vote for Christie will more likely end Corzine’s lease on Drumthwacket.