Poll: Booker's lead slips

WASHINGTON – Cory Booker may have more of a fight on his hands than first expected.

The Democratic Newark mayor still has a solid lead in the New Jersey Senate race, but it’s getting closer than many thought, according to a Quinnipiac University poll out Tuesday.

The survey of likely voters gives Booker a 53-41 edge over Republican Steve Lonegan.

“Maybe the show horse versus work horse charge (from Lonegan) is having an impact,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University polling institute.

Lonegan has been busy on the campaign trail, hammering Booker’s record on crime in Newark, while Booker has not held a public campaign event since Sept. 15. My story today details how Booker has had public campaign events on just six of the 22 days since Labor Day – the time when campaigns usually kick into high gear.

The mayor has instead spent much of the past week fund-raising.

Despite the Q poll’s picture of a tightening race, Booker is still a significant favorite. He has a massive edge in fund-raising and New Jersey hasn’t elected a Republican senator in more than 40 years.

“If it’s not a blow out, it still looks like a comfortable lead for Booker,” Carroll said.

Other polls have shown a bigger gap. The Stockton Polling Institute gave Booker a 26 point lead among likely voters in a poll released Monday.

Lonegan is still unknown to many voters. He had a 35-22 favorability rating, according to the Q Poll, but 43 percent don’t know enough to form an opinion. Booker’s favorability was 53-30.

The Newark mayor is winning big with women – 60-34, while men are split: 48 percent favor Lonegan, and 46 percent prefer Booker.

The special Senate election is Oct. 16

The poll surveyed 948 likely voters and has a 3.2 percent margin of error. 

You can follow Tamari on Twitter or email him at jtamari@phillynews.com.