A Monmouth University poll released today shows that the race in New Jersey’s 6th district between Rep. Frank Pallone and the Republican candidate, Anna Little, has tightened significantly.
In the poll, Pallone leads Little with 52 to 45 percentage points. A Monmouth University poll from October 6th had Little only taking 33 percent to Pallone’s 58 percent of the vote. This 7-point margin in a district that has returned Pallone by no less than 67 percent of the vote in the last three cycles means this will be a race to watch on election night.
The poll, however, could underestimate Little’s performance. The Monmouth University poll’s sample was 40 percent Democrats, 22 percent Republicans and 38 percent Independents. 40 percent Democrat is probably close to correct; exit polls from 2004, 2006 and 2008 placed the Democratic share of the vote at 39, 41 and 40 percent for each respective year. In 2004 the Republican sample was 31 percent and the independent sample was 30 percent. In 2006 the Republican sample was 28 percent (a depressed year for Republicans nation wide, but especially dower in the North East) and the independent Sample was 31 percent. In 2008 the Republican sample was 33 percent and the independent sample was 38 percent.
It is fairly dubious assertion that this year will yield fewer Republicans at the polls than even 2006. It is even more suspicious that 38 percent of the Monmouth University poll’s sample are independents; this unaffiliated voter sample outperforms their best year by 7 points. For a particularly good Republican year, when both the GOP and Democratic bases were engaged, 2004 is a decent place to start.
If you adjust the sample of 647 likely voters (257 Democrats, 141 Republican and 249 Independents) to reflect the exit polls from 2004, (253 Democrats, 201 Republicans and 194 Independents) then the race becomes 51 to 49 percent for Pallone. This is a minor adjustment from Monmouth University’s findings for Pallone but a major boost for Little. It also puts this race within the margin of error for most pollsters. This race could be a lot closer than Monmouth University’s polls show.