Thursday, October 26, 2006

NJ Skepticism

Buoyed by polls that show Tom Kean and Bob Menendez close in New Jersey, the GOP is getting ready to invest as much as $5 million in the state's Senate race.

This is an interesting gamble, given how much money the GOP has flushed down the New Jersey rathole in recent years.

In 2004, the last Quinnipiac poll showed Bush and Kerry tied at 46%, a week before election day. The New York Times was calling New Jersey a 'swing state,' and the perception that the race was close led Bush to speak on homeland security in New Jersey only a few weeks before election day. But as USA Today noted, even though polls consistenly showed the race to be a close one, Kerry ultimately won by 7 points.

In 2000, early polls in New Jersey showed a close race between Bush and Gore, with some even showing Bush ahead. A belief that the race had gotten close again late in the campaign led Bush to hold a rally in the state only a few days before the election, in the hopes of a blowout victory in the Presidential race. The result? Bush lost by 16 points.

Some of this is laid out in a post-mortem on the 2000 race here. The chief political director for the Newark Star Ledger describes New Jersey as a 'weird state,' where 'polls show things close and tend to break Democratic in the end.'

By spending a lot of money in an expensive media market, the the GOP is betting that things will be different in New Jersey this year.

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