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While nothing is ever certain, especially in politics, if the numbers play out, Congressman Josh Gottheimer is likely safe to retain his seat in CD5. Cygnal, a marketing and research firm, recently conducted a survey of 400 individuals likely to vote in the general election. The margin of error was listed at plus or minus 4.9%, a significant enough amount to determine that nothing is entirely conclusive, given fairly close margins. Despite being the third best-funded congressional candidate, with some $7 million in his war chest, Gottheimer still needs to contend with walking the line and satisfying his party base as well as a historically conservative district.
In short, only one Republican out of a choice of Bob Auth, Mike Ghassali, and John McCann statistically seems able to return CD5 to a red district – former challenger John McCann. McCann ran in the 2018 mid-term elections, beating Steve Lonegan in the GOP primary and falling short of Gottheimer 42.5% to 56.2%.
The Cygnal survey did not ask the respondents about other Republican primary candidates, however, including Frank Pallotta, James Baldini, Hector Castillo, Jon Dalrymple, Dana DiRisio, or Paul Duggan. Missing that information paints a potentially unreliable picture of Gottheimer’s prospects against Republican contenders in the general election, depending on the outcome of the primary.
Of the Republican options surveyed, Bob Auth showed the weakest opposition to Gottheimer and, with the departure of Bob Auth from the race anyway, McCann demonstrates an edge of 40.4% to Gottheimer’s 38.9%, with a crucial 20.7% undecided. With margins so narrow and an undecided base so large, it is difficult to be certain which way the wind could blow.
Contrasting this, Mike Ghassali polled 42.6% to Gottheimer’s 44.1%, inversely equal in size-of-gap to McCann vs. Gottheimer, but with a notably smaller undecided bloc of 13.3%. Statisticians could speculate as to whether or not this relates to name recognition or varying degrees of enthusiasm amongst likely-Republican-voters between Ghassali and McCann.
Respondents said that they opposed the Senate removing President Trump from office following impeachment by 49% whereas 44.4% of those supported it. Those neutral were 4.7% and those unsure only 1.9%.
While Donald Trump’s campaign does not expect to actually win the state of New Jersey in the general election, the campaign is pouring in money. According to nj.com, RNC Chief of Staff Richard Walters said, “With our next wave of hires, we are on track to send House Democrats packing and elect Republican candidates to Congress who will work with President Trump throughout a second term to continue this great American comeback.”
Energized by Congressman Van Drew changing from a Democrat to Republican, and with the ascent of State Senator Mike Testa in LD1, the Blue Wave appears to have subsided. Understanding that the presidential campaign is a lost cause in the Garden State, local GOP candidates might stand to benefit from affiliation with the campaign, financially as well as in terms of branding. Cygnal’s survey showed that while the difference between positive perception and extremely negative perception of a candidate based on support of Donald Trump was only 40.3% to 39.8% respectively, 13.0% said that they could look past their negative feelings for a candidate’s fondness for Trump while 6.8% were ensure. Those figures would suggest that a Republican taking back CD5 from Gottheimer is not such a far flung idea after all, and that the district remains fairly conservative. This stands in contrast to CD11, where freshman Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill looks poised to handily retain her seat, vastly exceeding Republican challenger Rosemary Becchi in fundraising. Becchi is one of those candidates looking to benefit from funding from the RNC’s efforts to produce a closer-to-home turnaround in New Jersey.
Demographically, the respondents were majority female at 53.2%, and respondents aged 50 and up accounted for 61%. Democrats made up 33.0%, Republicans 32.6%, unaffiliated or independents 28.4%. Just under two-thirds of the respondents said they had completed a college degree. 50.8% made more than $100k annually, 33.5% between $50k-$100k, and 15.7% made under $50k. Of the 400 people who took the survey, 66.3% identified as White, a sizable 14.8% as “unknown”, 10.2% as Hispanic/Latino, 3.7% as “other”, 2.7% as Asian, and 2.3% as Black.