Poll: Kerry Leads Bush in New Jersey

Democratic challenger John Kerry (search) leads President Bush by 6 percentage points among voters in New Jersey, a state Al Gore (search) won by 16 percentage points in 2000, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released Wednesday.

Kerry had 46 percent and Bush 40 percent in the poll, a drop of 3 percentage points for the president from the survey released in May. Kerry's support remained the same, but independent candidate Ralph Nader (search) had 7 percent, up 2 percentage points from May.

The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percent for the survey, taken June 15-20 of 1,167 voters.

Kerry's favorability ratings among those polled was still lukewarm, with 30 percent viewing him favorably and 28 percent viewing him unfavorably, said Clay Richards, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac Polling Institute. Thirteen percent said they did not know enough about Kerry to form an opinion about him.

"I think that's an indication that Kerry hasn't made much impact here, that the word just hasn't gone around about him," Richards said.

When asked about Bush, 35 percent said they viewed him favorably while 40 percent viewed him unfavorably. Twenty-three percent had formed no opinion.

"Our previous poll came before the (Abu Ghraib) prison scandal really hit, and his drop is partly because of the prison scandal," Richards said. "And support for the war has dropped."

Of those polled, 54 percent said they believed the war in Iraq was the wrong thing to do.

Kerry is not doing as well as he should be in a Democratic state like New Jersey, Richards said.

"There's a combination of things hurting Kerry," Richards said. "His own image problems, Nader and terrorism. There's still a lot of people who feel more protected under Bush than they would under Kerry."

Fifty percent of voters said Bush would do a better job on terrorism issues, compared with Kerry's 39 percent. But voters thought Kerry would do a better job than Bush on the economy, giving him a lead of 52 to 40 percent.

The poll also showed that Bush and Kerry were virtually even when people were asked who would do a better job in Iraq. Bush had 46 percent of the vote to Kerry's 45 percent.