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NJ Voters Like Cory Booker For U.S. Senate [AUDIO]

U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg is not running for re-election next year and, right now, Newark Mayor Cory Booker looks a lot like the guy New Jersey voters want to succeed him.

The latest poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind also asks about a possible big-name Republican challenger, how people feel about cable TV news and what they think about the president.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker speaks during the Democrat National Convention
Newark Mayor Cory Booker speaks during the Democrat National Convention (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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 percent) and Rush Holt (7 percent) commanding significantly less support. About a third (32 percent) is undecided.

“Senator Lautenberg’s formal announcement that he won’t seek reelection in 2014 has definitely opened the door for those aspiring to his seat,” says Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind and professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University. “Although it’s early and we are more than one year away from the Democratic primary, Booker’s early lead will be helpful in attempts to raise money and rally the party behind his candidacy.”

Cory Booker vs. Geraldo Rivera

The poll also asks registered voters, regardless of their party affiliation, to respond to a hypothetical match-up between Booker and Republican Geraldo Rivera, the Fox News on-air personality who has made repeated statements about a possible candidacy for Lautenberg’s seat. Booker commands a sizable lead over Rivera, with 52 percent endorsing Mayor Booker and 21 percent favoring Rivera. About a quarter, (26 percent) say they are unsure.

Cable TV News Impact

Rivera derives a good amount of his support from those who consider Fox News more trustworthy relative to its cable news competitors (CNN and MSNBC).

Forty-one percent of those who consider Fox News more trustworthy than CNN (15 percent) and MSNBC (10 percent) endorse Rivera. Booker garners his greatest support from those who deem MSNBC the most reliable news source. Seventy-one percent of MSNBC viewers favor Booker over Rivera, with slightly fewer (66 percent) trusting CNN the most and about a quarter (26 percent) who identify Fox News as the most trustworthy news source.

Booker is the candidate of choice among those who believe Fox is the least trustworthy (73 percent), while Rivera polls better among those who believe MSNBC can be trusted the least (40 percent).

“As cable news has grown increasingly polarized, New Jersey voters seem to be telling us that perceptions of whom they can trust offer insights into candidate preference,” says Jenkins. “These numbers suggest that Booker and Rivera, or whomever emerges as the two major party candidates, should think through the consequences of not only what they say to voters but where they choose to deliver their message.”

Overall Cable News Opinions

Overall, CNN emerges as the network perceived as the most trustworthy by registered voters. A little more than third (37 percent) give CNN high marks, followed by Fox (27%) and MSNBC (17 percent). CNN comes in with the lowest percentage of respondents who find it the most unbelievable (11 percent), followed by MSNBC (23 percent) and Fox (47 percent).

Republicans are far more likely to find Fox the most trustworthy (50 percent) than Democrats (12 percent); and MSNBC is perceived by Democrats as the most trustworthy in numbers significantly greater than among Republicans (23 versus 9 percent, respectively). The same pattern emerges when registered voters consider which cable news outlet is perceived as the least trustworthy. Republicans distrust MSNBC more than Democrats (44 versus 8 percent, respectively), while Democrats distrust Fox more than Republicans (70 versus 22 percent, respectively).

Obama Approval Down

Forty-nine percent of those surveyed approve of the way the President is handling his job, with 40 percent disapproving. Similar numbers, but reversed, can be found when the question turns to how the nation is faring, with disapproval coming in higher. Forty-eight percent believe the nation is headed down the wrong track while 40 percent believe the opposite. Obama’s job approval is down eight points from January.

“The sequestration debate and failure to reach a budget compromise with congressional Republicans has clearly hurt the president, at least for now,” explains Jenkins. “Although there’s plenty of blame to go around in Washington, D.C., New Jersey voters have clearly decided that President Obama’s stewardship has lost some luster in recent days.”

The statewide poll of 702 registered voters was conducted by telephone with both land line and cell phones from March 4th through March 10th, 2013, and has a margin of error of +/-3.7 percentage points.

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