Booker ahead by wide margin in reelection bid; majority support for marijuana and veteran ballot measures, voters split on redistricting

election 2020

With less than a week until Election Day, former Vice President Joe Biden continues to lead President Donald Trump by a double-digit margin among New Jersey voters, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Biden wins big among all registered voters (59 percent to 37 percent) and by a similar margin with likely voters (61 percent to 37 percent); few in either scenario are undecided at this point.

Biden’s lead stems from large support among Democratic stalwarts like women (70 percent), non-white voters (78 percent), those in the lowest income bracket (66 percent), urban residents (78 percent), voters in the South near Philadelphia (60 percent), and those with college (65 percent) or graduate degrees (68 percent). But the former vice president also pulls ahead of Trump with other coveted voting blocs like independents (54 percent), senior citizens (62 percent), those in higher income brackets (55 percent), those with less than a college education (56 percent), and suburban (61 percent) and exurban (61 percent) voters. Biden narrowly wins among men (51 percent) and is tied with Trump among white voters (49 percent to 49 percent).

“New Jersey has not been a contested state in presidential elections for the past few decades, and this year is no different,” said Ashley Koning, assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. “Much like his lead nationally, Biden’s wide margin over Trump in the Garden State has endured throughout the campaign and has only been solidified in the final days of the race.”

Yet despite participating in this very survey, just 9 percent of registered voters have a “great deal” of trust in public opinion polls to correctly predict the winner of the 2020 presidential election; another 34 percent trust them “a fair amount,” while the rest either trust them “not very much” (33 percent) or “not at all” (21 percent). Republicans, followed by independents, are the most skeptical, with about two-thirds saying they trust the polls “not very much” or “not at all.” Democrats, on the other hand, trust to some extent that the polls will correctly predict the winner.

“After a perceived failure of the polls in 2016, pre-election polling has been met with much hesitation and skepticism this election cycle, making 2020 potentially consequential for the future of the survey industry,” said Koning. “But we have to remember that surveys are blunt instruments and snapshots in time. They cannot account for the number of other factors that affect Election Day results, like turnout and late movement of undecided and third-party voters. Polls are not meant to be predictive but rather explanatory, a scientific estimate of why people feel and do what they do.”

About half of registered voters – 47 percent – say they have already voted in New Jersey. Democrats in the Garden State are especially likely to have already cast their ballots – 54 percent, compared to 44 percent of independents and 38 percent of Republicans. Almost all of those who have yet to vote say they will definitely do so in the coming days, whether by mail or in person.

Ashley Koning
Ashley Koning is the director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University–New Brunswick.

“Like the rest of the country, voters in the Garden State are casting their ballots early in unprecedented numbers,” noted Koning.

About nine in 10 registered voters say they are interested in politics to some degree and have been following news about the presidential candidates this election cycle at least “somewhat closely.”

Like his fellow Democrat at the top of the ticket, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker has a large lead against Republican challenger Rik Mehta in his reelection bid. Among registered voters, he wins 59 percent to 30 percent; among likely voters, 61 percent to 31 percent.

There is also strong support for marijuana legalization and regulation, with 61 percent of likely voters for it and 34 percent against it. There is even stronger support for a constitutional amendment that would make peacetime veterans eligible to receive a property tax deduction (78 percent for versus 16 percent against). Opinions on delaying the legislative redistricting process are more mixed: 46 percent are for it, 32 percent are against it, and 22 percent are still unsure.

The Democratic figures at the top of this year’s ballot get high marks from likely voters. Sixty one percent of likely voters are favorable toward Biden, and 55 percent are favorable toward his running mate, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris. Similarly, 56 percent have a favorable impression of Booker.

Trump and his running mate, Vice President Mike Pence, do not fare nearly as well. Trump continues to receive low favorability (37 percent) and job approval (39 percent) ratings. Likewise, 37 percent of voters have a favorable view of Pence.

Results are from a statewide poll of 1,001 adults contacted by live callers on landlines and cell phones from October 18 – 24. The full sample has a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percentage points; the subsample of 972 registered voters has a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percentage points, and the subsample of 872 likely voters has a margin of error of +/- 4.0 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.

View the questions and tables here.