Chris "Fat Boy Slim" Christie canceled the NY-NJ rail tunnel project that had already been funded, in part, by the Feds. This project would have paid for itself over time, was a joint project between the state, the Feds, and the NY-NJ Port Authority.
Fat Boy Slim took the money, and when he canceled the project decided he'd just use the money for something else.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Tuesday rejected a request from Gov.-elect John Kasich in Ohio to use the $400 million in federal funds pledged to that state's train project on other projects like road construction or freight lines. [...]
A day earlier LaHood sent the same message to Wisconsin officials about the $810 million in rail money pledged to that state. Wisconsin Gov.-elect Scott Walker campaigned against the Madison-to-Milwaukee line, including creating a website opposed to the project.
Fair is fair: if the money is earmarked for project A, a governor can't accept the money and then spend it on something else. There's a word for that...um, I think it's...um....stealing public funds. Something, by the way, Fat Boy Slim knows something about since he's done it before successfully. Until now.
Gov. Christie, while serving as U.S. attorney, billed taxpayers for luxury hotels on trips and routinely failed to follow federal travel regulations, according to a report released Monday.
It's not a lot of money, especially when compared to the $271 million plus interests and penalties. But still, the guy is planning on running for the White House.
After examining the polling in both states for the better part of five months, it is fairly clear that these races have virtually no national implications. In New Jersey, the election last night was as much about Jon Corzine as 2006 and 2008 were about George W. Bush. That is to say that each was about an unpopular incumbent. Corzine had not, as FHQ mentioned yesterday, broken the 45% barrier in polling all year and he needed to round his percentage of the vote share up to get there last night. The Democrat's chances hinged completely upon Chris Daggett's ability to siphon off votes from Christie and make 44 or 45% the winning total. When Daggett came up well short of where FHQ and most other monitors expected the independent to end up (He pulled in about half of his expected share; 5%.), Corzine basically had no chance. As was talked about on The Monkey Cage earlier today, someone viewed negatively and behind in the polls has to attack and bring his or her opponent down to their level. Lee Seligman put it better: "It’s not so much that attackers lose as that losers attack." Corzine had to attack, but in the end couldn't bring Christie down to a beatable level.
The end result in Virginia was the same -- the Republican won -- but the process of getting there was very different. I don't think that Chris Christie or Jon Corzine were particularly great candidates, but in the commonwealth, Bob McDonnell just outclassed Creigh Deeds as a candidate. McDonnell basically held an advantage throughout the year no matter which Democratic candidate was pitted against him; an advantage that crescendoed rapidly when the votes began to be cast a day ago. Deeds, seeing that McDonnell had been spotted an edge, was essentially in the same position John McCain was in a year ago relative to Barack Obama, except the Democrat was without a presidential-level campaign team. [I'm not talking about folks from within the Obama administration. I'm talking about campaign staff that is steeped in experience. McCain had that. Deeds did not.] FHQ isn't here to throw Deeds under the bus. I just think that McDonnell was in the position of being able to take the high road (as most frontrunners are) through the thesis ordeal. Deeds' campaign, meanwhile, latched onto that story and quickly became associated with it to the point that once the issue faded there was no previously constructed message on which Deeds could lean.
One other thing that might also be mentioned (that I haven't seen discussed anywhere) is how the primaries in this race played out. The parties tinkering with their presidential nomination rules would be wise to take note of this. FHQ won't argue that the Democratic primary battle hurt Deeds. It didn't. But Bob McDonnell was ceded the Republican nomination. In the absence of competition, the former attorney general was never forced to run to the right. Not only did that not provide Deeds or any other Democrat with any fodder for the general election campaign, but it also helped McDonnell, even with the thesis out in the open, to foster a more moderate image. In the end, it isn't the primary battle that's negative so much as the easy road to nomination is beneficial.
I'm a day late on the updates in New Jersey and Virginia, but it was all for a good cause. Of course, we wanted to do our yearly homage to Halloween, and what better way to do that than in the context of the gubernatorial races in the Garden state and the Old Dominion. [I still like last year's celebratory Halloween post better.]
I had the pleasure of talking with my two favorite New Jerseyans tonight about their thoughts on the gubernatorial race in the Garden state. Both are politically knowledgeable and extremely independent thinkers who spend five to six months out of the year out of the state taking in the rest of our beautiful country. If I had to guess -- and they certainly aren't terribly up front about this -- one is a Democratic leaner and the other is a Republican leaner. And that's if I was forced to guess.
Needless to say, I was excited to have the opportunity to speak with them once I found out they were passing through on their way home to vote on Tuesday. Sure, it is nice to look at poll numbers -- representative ones at that -- but the chance for a two respondent poll was too much to pass up.
The results? Bad news for Corzine.
The money quote? "We're going home to vote; not to vote for someone, but to vote against someone."
President Obama was efficient at "banking" early votes a year ago. A year later, Jon Corzine, the incumbent Democrat Obama is trying to pull over the finish line in this race, has a couple of unbanked votes trekking the final leg of their yearly odyssey across the United States coming home to the Garden state. No, my friends aren't necessarily the bellwether that a state like Missouri has been on the presidential level, but they are a pair of what Tom Jensen at Public Policy Polling has identified as grudging voters; arguably the face of this election on Tuesday.
Further north in New Jersey, the race for governor is shaping up to be a potential all-nighter. [Well, we have to have at least one every election cycle, I suppose. It won't be in New York City or Virginia.] FHQ will resist the urge to say that Corzine has comeback from the dead in this contest. Sure, the governor has inched up slightly of late, but he can't claim to have momentum other than to say that the race is tighter in a traditionally blue state. Fine, that could be considered momentum to some degree, but it pales in comparison to the negative momentum Republican Chris Christie has had in the surveys that have been released over the last handful of weeks. His descent since the end of September (at least in FHQ's measure -- see below) has been a marked contrast to the steady state that was typical of his summer in the polls. [There's no doubt that others saw a more pronounced gain for Christie during June and July.]
While Virginia is quickly being supplanted by the three way race in New York's 23rd congressional district in terms of competitive interest, New Jersey is not; buoyed by a three way race of its own. Of course, things were seemingly back to normal on Tuesday, a day after a Suffolk poll found incumbent, Jon Corzine ahead by an unseen-to-that-point 9 point advantage over Republican Chris Christie. Today, though, it was back to the within the margin of error polling leads that have marked this race in the Garden state for the last few weeks. Both Rasmussen and Public Policy Polling found as much in the state, though PPP's margin between the two major party candidates was technically outside of the margin of error.
A nine point Corzine lead? According to a new Suffolk survey of the Garden state, that is the case. However...
It was Suffolk's first poll in the state for this race.
The sample size is on the small end; only 400 people.
There were a lot of undecideds (14%). The last time there was anything in the double digits for undecideds was the September 9 Rasmussen release (10%). Let me add some context: that was "You Lie!" week.
Is the poll something to be dismissed? No, but it should certainly be treated as an outlier. At one end of the spectrum (an extreme application of the margin of error), if Corzine cedes five points to Christie, the Republican has a one point edge. If you were to do Monte Carlo simulations given the data in this poll, that particular outcome wouldn't come up very many times though.
Thursday was a busy day in the New Jersey governors race. Not only was it the day of the last debate between the three main contenders, but we were also treated to three new polls in the race*. The take-home message from those surveys? Corzine and Christie have deadlocked just below the 40% mark, and at least today, independent Chris Daggett has consolidated much of the rest. Across the three polls the independent averaged just over 17% support and passed 20% in the Rutgers/Eagleton poll.
I scoffed at the notion a week or so ago that Daggett could reprise Jesse Ventura's run to the Minnesota governor's mansion in 1998, but today's polling looks an awful lot like the home stretch survey work in that Minnesota race a decade ago. No, there isn't same day registration/voting in New Jersey as there was in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but there is a new (absentee) vote by mail process in the Garden state that could potentially help Daggett in that respect. But the independent hasn't been as vocal as Jon Corzine has been on that front. Sure, the Daggett folks have been nice enough to retweet several FHQ microblog postings on Twitter, but Corzine has been using the service to urge folks to utilize the vote by mail process while Daggett has not. [In between mentions of Obama's visit a day ago, Corzine has been informing folks about how many days are left in the vote by mail sequence. 5 more days apparently.]
FHQ mocks the Corzine camp, but Survey USA was nice enough to ask a "have you voted" question in the survey released today. And though only 8% of the respondents had, Corzine had banked slightly more votes than Christie (44-39) with Daggett trailing at 16%. Christie led Corzine by a similar margin among the 92% of the respondents who had not voted (by mail).
The chatter around the New Jersey gubernatorial race this Tuesday three weeks before the election centered on whether independent Chris Daggett could actually win the election in the Garden state. 77% of the new Quinnipiac survey's respondents thought not, but that didn't keep the good folks at NBC News' First Read from wondering aloud about the possibility. Well, at the very least it didn't prevent First Read from making a flawed connection between Jesse Ventura's win in the Minnesota governors contest in 1998 and Chris Daggett in 2009.
Yes, environmentally, Minnesota had an electorate that was seemingly against both major parties down the stretch in that race whose candidates were deadlocked in the polls. However, New Jersey and Chris Daggett are missing two very important ingredients from the Ventura formula: money and election day registration. [Oh, and if the Minnesota ballot in 1998 was anything like this -- which is a heck of a lot better than this -- Daggett will have had something Ventura did not: a ballot problem.] Does any of this mean Daggett cannot win? Well, there is an awful lot of mounting evidence, but I suppose the idea can't be completely dismissed.
I don't know that there is much to say here. The race for governor in New Jersey is very simply getting tighter. Jon Corzine found himself again on top of the race in a poll for the second time this week, doubling his total of polls led from (way) earlier in the year. Now, that isn't to say that Chris Christie has lost the advantage -- he hasn't here at FHQ or elsewhere -- but the momentum is squarely against the Republican at the moment. And the sudden jump of independent Chris Daggett in the polls (especially this week into the mid-teens) seems to be drawing directly from the former US attorney. All three candidates are breaking new ground. Daggett is threatening to break the 10% mark, Corzine is inching toward 40% and Christie is now about to fall under 45% for the first time since FHQ began tabulating the averages of this race in mid-June.
It is always one thing to say you're gaining on your competition, but to actually get in a position to surpass him or her is another thing entirely. And while Jon Corzine hasn't exactly been gaining on Chris Christie in the polls so much as Christie has been sliding, the incumbent is now within striking distance. Of all the poll releases since (the completely arbitrary date of) September 21, all six have shown a race within four points. [And depending on the sample sizes, all are within the margin of error.] And in the Fairleigh Dickinson poll out today, Jon Corzine has his first poll lead since January. One could say it has been a roller coaster ride. It has; just not for Corzine, who in the two polls released today reached the high water mark or his polling support this entire year. Despite that, Corzine has been stuck for the better part of the year in the 37-38% range in most polls while Chris Christie has been the one to see a dramatic rise into the 50% range and a subsequent fall since.
We're close to entering the final month of Campaign '09 and the polling in New Jersey and Virginia is starting to pick up as a result. There were a couple of new polls out in New Jersey and depending on your perspective both are problematic. FHQ won't pile on Strategic Vision any more than has already been the case (see here and here*) except to accuse Strategic Vision of stealing our numbers -- jokingly of course.
The first thing we thought at FHQ upon seeing those numbers was, "Hey, those are the same as our averages in the race right now. What a coincidence."
Later it became, "Was that a coincidence?" Of course it is, but my real point here is that the inclusion of that data has absolutely no impact on the averages. They basically just serve to reinforce the preexisting state of the race. We'll leave the Strategic Vision poll in the averages until something is definitively proven one way or the other. Innocent until proven guilty, right?
Six weeks to go until election day and in New Jersey nothing is new. Chris Christie continues to lead incumbent governor, Jon Corzine. The only thing remotely new out of the just released Rasmussen poll of the Garden state gubernatorial race is that the undecided mark has dropped off since the last survey the firm conducted in the state earlier in the month. The good news for Chris Christie is that Corzine does not seem to be taking any disproportionate number of these late deciders (at least not enough to make a noticeable difference).
What was it Dectective Frank Drebin said in the first Naked Gun movie as he was attempting to disperse the crowd gawking at an exploding fireworks factory?
Nothing to see here, folks.
Now, today's Public Policy Polling survey of the New Jersey gubernatorial race was certainly interesting in some aspects (It wasn't as status quo-maintaining as the Monmouth poll a day ago.), but it was not an earth-shattering revelation of Corzine's late season comeback either. Honestly, the most interesting part of both this race and the race in Virginia is that Democrats are either seemingly tired after 2008 or complacent. What else explains how a state that President Obama won by 15 points last November suddenly has a 2009 (likely) electorate that favors Obama by only two points? Democrats just aren't opting into either of these races in the numbers that they did only a year ago. And though Chris Christie is the one gaining from that situation, Jon Corzine has been continually stuck in the upper 30s (in FHQ's averaging) throughout, stymied of late by the slow growth behind independent candidate, Chris Daggett's run.
As the calendar has turned from August to September, there is some evidence that the Garden state race for governor is tightening. And it isn't so much that Jon Corzine is gaining on Republican Chris Christie so much as it is a case of the Christie campaign showing some signs that the recent flurry of negative attention is bring the former US attorney back to earth. In fact, the Rasmussen data reflect a rather inflated sense of the race on both sides by including the firm's infamous "leaners" (undecideds or third party supporters who tip their hands in Rasmussen's view as to who of the two major party candidates they lean toward). Now, there's nothing wrong with the leaners per se -- Rasmussen made a similar switch down the stretch in the presidential race a year ago -- but during the summer the inclusion of the leaners really serves to inflate the amount of support each candidate has. Once fall dawns, though, their inclusion makes a bit more sense.
But how much of a difference are we talking about? The switch from leaners to no leaners has on average meant a four point gain for Christie and a 3.3 point bump for Corzine. No, that doesn't change the spread that much but it has for the entire summer kept Christie at or around the 50% mark in these polls. And on top of that Rasmussen mentioned in the poll write up that the eight point spread in the reported poll dropped to four in the "without leaners" version of the survey. And for all intents and purposes, that means that Christie likely would have had more of a drop in that transition than would have Christie. The effect is that Christie, in that version, likely would have dropped below the 45% mark. And that would be the first time since January that the Republican has had that small a share of support in a Rasmussen survey.
What does that mean? Well, Corzine still isn't making any jump in any of these polls, but as Mark Blumenthal at Pollster mentioned last week, the incumbent hasn't moved that much all year. All the movement has been on the Christie side. He rose and peaked in the summer and has been tracking downward of late. And what that really means is that, despite the fact that Corzine's numbers haven't budged all year, the Democrat is now more likely to pull off the Democratic comeback that has been typical of recent Senate and presidential races but has not really manifest itself in a gubernatorial race since Brendan Byrne mounted a charge in the 1977 race.
Rasmussen today released a new poll in the New Jersey governors race, and the numbers were good for both candidates; depending on what numbers you were looking at. For our purposes here at FHQ, we have a rule of examining the numbers that come out of Rasmussen without the "with leaners" tag. This is something we have been doing since last summer in the presidential race. All the firm is attempting to do is to fit some of the undecideds and "other" candidate folks into the Corzine or Christie camps. After the jump are the numbers without those leaners: