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Is Booker hearing footsteps?


Jackson: Is Booker hearing footsteps?

AUGUST 10, 2014, 6:00 PM    LAST UPDATED: SUNDAY, AUGUST 10, 2014, 11:39 PM

Sen. Cory Booker last year saw what ignoring a little-known opponent can do. He was slammed for not winning a special election by the landslide his celebrity and overwhelming financial advantage suggested was possible.

Now he’s running again, and a new poll shows him under the 50 percent mark that signifies a safe incumbent. And that’s with virtually unknown and underfunded Republican opponent Jeff Bell trailing by just 10 points.

So once again, Booker faces questions about expectations.

The Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showed Booker would receive 47 percent of the vote and Bell 37 percent if the election were held now. The poll has a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points, meaning Booker’s true support could be as low as 44.1 or as high as 49.9.

Bell, the surprise winner of June’s low-turnout primary, who also won an upset in the June 1978 Senate primary, is almost within striking distance — even though 77 percent of voters haven’t heard of him and his latest disclosure report shows his campaign $46,000 in debt, while Booker’s campaign has $3.5 million to spend.

The poll’s findings caught the attention of some national political writers who were focusing on other states in this year’s Senate races, but there is also historical evidence that a truly competitive race from Bell could be just a mirage. Summer polls, taken before candidates start advertising and voters pay attention, have been off the mark before.

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