New Jersey: Where Pundits Go to Be Wrong

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 13 2013 9:05 AM

New Jersey: Where Pundits Go to Be Wrong

Newark Mayor Cory Booker laughs at the podium with stage manager David Cove (R) during a walkthrough before the start of day one of the Democratic National Convention on September 4, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Last Friday, I sat in for the Cook Political Report's first midterm election briefing. This far out, an event like that is mostly going to be useful as a scale for conventional wisdom. And it was! At one point, an audience member (the audience consisted mostly of politicos and PAC hacks) asked Charlie Cook and his team how Cory Booker looked in the 2014 race for Senate in New Jersey. There was a consensus: Booker had done no favors by tangling with Sen. Frank Lautenberg and pissing him off—it had gone "as badly as it could," we were told.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

"How'd Booker do in South Jersey?" asked a Cook analyst, rhetorically.


"Maybe he wins Camden," sniffed a well-dressed politico sitting next to me.

I didn't get any of this. Was the Booker-Lautenberg contretemps awkward? Did it reveal Booker's "glass jaw"? Looked to me like Booker successfully boosted Lautenberg out of the race while consistently polling a 2-1 lead over the senator. Could Booker lose a primary once he had to run statewide? Let's check the polls.

The latest poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind finds that among registered voters who are self-identified Democrats, Cory Booker is the favored candidate to win the Democratic nomination. Half of those queried say they would like to see Booker get the nod, with Congressmen Frank Pallone (4%) and Rush Holt (7%) commanding significantly less support. About a third (32%) are undecided. Booker’s support is up modestly from PublicMind’s January poll (42%), when the question included Frank Lautenberg, who was still considered a likely candidate.

And a Februrary poll from Quinnipiac gave Booker a net +36 favorable rating in the Philadelphia 'burbs, and a net +42 rating on the shore. The idea that Booker is struggling outside his own Newark is a product of New York/D.C. chatter, not anything measurable in the state.

Could Booker blow this thing? Sure! I'm not rooting for some primary coronation. I just enjoy it when political analysts overrate chatter and buzz from people with agendas and completely miss the dynamics of a race.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now.


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

The Ludicrous Claims Women Are Pitched at “Egg Freezing Parties”

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
Business Insider
Oct. 1 2014 12:21 PM How One Entrepreneur Is Transforming Blood Testing
The Eye
Oct. 1 2014 1:04 PM An Architectural Crusade Against the Tyranny of Straight Lines
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 1:01 PM Can Activists Save Reyhaneh Jabbari?  
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 10:54 AM “I Need a Pair of Pants That Won’t Bore Me to Death” Troy Patterson talks about looking sharp, flat-top fades, and being Slate’s Gentleman Scholar.
Oct. 1 2014 1:04 PM The Many Faces of Texas
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM Watch a Crowd Go Wild When Steve Jobs Moves a Laptop in This 1999 Demonstration of WiFi
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 12:01 PM Rocky Snow
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.