Last week the Quinnipiac poll had Cory Booker up in the U.S. Senate race by 12 points and the Monmouth poll had Booker up by 13.
Steve Lonegan’s strategist and pollster Rick Shaftan told SaveJersey that their campaign’s 4 day tracking internal poll has Lonegan down only 3 points, 47%-43%, with two weeks to go before the special election on Wednesday October 16.
In my years observing and participating in New Jersey politics, it’s been rare that an internal poll has proved more accurate than the normally reliable Monmouth or Quinnipiac polls. Adam Geller is the only partisan pollster who I would give more credence to than the best of the independents.
This time could be different. There is no historical model for predicting how voters will behave on the third Wednesday in October. There is also no model for predicting how voters still displaced by Superstorm Sandy will behave in the first non-primary election since their homes were destroyed. More then usual, the pollster’s assumptions and weighting impact the results.
Shaftan admits that his Democratic turnout assumptions are lower than what many others expect. He told MMM that he expects African-Americans will only be 8% of the vote in the senate elections compared to 12% in last year’s presidential election in New Jersey.
Releasing internal numbers that are substantially better than those produced by independent polls is a double edged sword. The release is intended to excite voters and to convince potential donors that their money won’t be wasted on a lost cause. On the downside, after the opposition scoffs at the numbers, they can react to them with their own ads or GOTV efforts.