WASHINGTON — Former Navy pilot and federal prosecutor Mikie Sherrill held a slight lead over Assemblyman Jay Webber in one of the four New Jersey congressional districts key to the chances of a House Democratic takeover this fall.
Sherrill’s 48 percent to 44 percent lead over Webber, R-Morris, among likely voters is within the 5-point margin of error in the Monmouth University Poll released Tuesday. There was little change from a June poll that also gave Sherrill a 4-point advantage.
Men preferred Webber, 54 percent to 39 percent, while women sided with Sherrill, 57 percent to 35 percent.
The poll reflected voter opposition to President Donald Trump, who has endorsed Webber, and his tax plan that targeted New Jersey and other high-tax states by curbing the federal deduction for state and local taxes.
“The basic contours of this race have not changed,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “Even though Republicans have the edge in party affiliation, many are not happy with the president or key GOP initiatives such as the tax reform plan.”
The 11th District, which is being vacated by retiring Republican Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, is one of four Republican-held seats that Democrats are either favored to win or no worse than 50-50.
Both the Cook Political Report and Inside Elections, two Washington-based publications that track congressional races, have made Sherrill a slight favorite, and Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight gave her a 3 in 4 chance of winning election in November.
Murray said the furor over the confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has not affected the race so far.
“Most of the voters who say they have been motivated by the Kavanaugh nomination are partisan identifiers, which suggests this issue has been more likely to firm up their choice rather than actually flip their vote,” he said.
While more than half of likely voters, 56 percent, said Trump’s Twitter endorsement had no impact, 28 percent said it made them less likely to support Webber while 15 percent sad it would make them more likely.
Trump, who carried the district in 2016 with less than 50 percent of the vote, had a job approval ratings of 49 percent positive and 48 percent negative, also within the margin of error.
Webber also received fundraising help from Vice President Mike Pence in August.
“It’s no surprise that Webber has not been trumpeting the president’s endorsement when you look at these poll numbers, Murray said. “Trump does not really help even though this is a Republican district.”
His tax plan was opposed by 46 percent, with 34 percent saying they strongly disapproved, and suppoted by 43 percentm with 25 percent strongly in favor.
“If anything should play well in a wealthy Republican district, it’s a tax cut,” Murray said. “But the elimination of certain deductions takes the sheen off this plan for many voters.”
The poll of 356 likely voters was conducted Oct. 3-7.