Stockton University Poll: Van Drew, Kennedy’s Second Congressional District Race a ‘Dead Heat’

By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Managing Editor

GALLOWAY, N.J. — Stockton University released a poll last Thursday in which the race for New Jersey’s Second Congressional District seat in the House of Representatives is described as a “dead heat.”

Democratic challenger Amy Kennedy holds a lead by the slimmest of margins over Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-2) in the poll. According to the poll, which was conducted among 676 likely voters, Kennedy leads 46-45 over the incumbent. It’s important to note the poll’s margin of error, which is 3.7%, and the fact that nine percent of those polled said they were either undecided or voting for another candidate to win the House seat.

“The 2nd District is living up to its billing as a competitive swing district,” John Froonjian, the executive director of Stockton’s William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy, said in a press release. “Turnout in the final days of mail voting and how the few undecided voters break will decide the race. Every vote counts, especially in this election.”

Fifty-seven percent of the poll’s sample of 676 respondents had already voted prior to answering this poll, which was conducted from October 22-27. Most of those who had already voted were democrats, which is consistent from other polling data found by Stockton University’s Hughes Center for Public Policy.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the partisan splits in this particular race are very clearly defined. Only 5% of Republicans support Kennedy in this race, and 4% of Democrats support Van Drew, according to the poll. The incumbent may be surprised to see his lack of support in this race, as he said at a debate hosted by Stockton’s Hughes Center for Public Policy that people voted for him in 2018 “because [he’s] Jeff Van Drew.”

“People voted for me because I’m Jeff Van Drew. My whole career has been based upon the fact that I wasn’t so concerned about Republicans and Democrats,” the incumbent said on October 8. “I was concerned about standing up for and fighting for South Jersey, for believing in the people of South Jersey who often don’t get their fair share. I think people know who I am, what I stand for, and they’ll vote for or against me on that basis.”

Van Drew downplayed the significance of his decision to change his political affiliation from Democrat to Republican at the debate on October 8. However, that decision has undoubtedly shaken up South Jersey’s political landscape and been a major storyline throughout this election cycle. New Jersey’s Second Congressional District had been considered solidly blue when Van Drew was elected in 2018, but his change has helped contribute to why the district is now considered a toss-up.

Fifty-five percent of those polled said that Van Drew’s switch to the other side of the aisle affected their opinion of him, and of that simple, 69% said the change affected their opinion of him negatively. The 69% figure includes 93% of Democrats and 71% of independents who responded to Stockton’s poll.

Additionally, Stockton gauged how both candidates are perceived by those polled:

  • 42% of those polled view Van Drew favorably, and 37% do not.
  • 39% of those polled view Kennedy favorably, and 30% do not.
  • 50% of those polled gave Van Drew a negative rating regarding his job performance, and 42% gave him a positive rating.

You can check out the poll’s full results — which include questions about the Presidential Election and Gov. Phil Murphy — here.

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