By Justin Sink
Democrats in the state favor Booker, a popular national figure with close ties to President Obama, by a 59-22 percent margin, over the 88-year old incumbent senator, according to a PPP survey released Thursday.
While 63 percent of Democratic voters approve of the job Lautenberg is doing as senator, only 36 percent say he should seek reelection in 2014. Meanwhile, 45 percent say he should retire.
If Lautenberg, the oldest current senator, were to step away from politics, Booker would also be the favorite in an open primary field. Of Democratic voters surveyed, the Newark mayor was the choice of 48 percent, versus just 17 percent for Rep. Rob Andrews (D-N.J.) and 13 percent for Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), two likely challengers for the Democratic nomination.
In addition to strong support from Democrats, Booker leads independents 45-21 percent and sees only a 29-34 deficit among Republicans.
The best hope for Senate Republicans could be if Lautenberg retires and Booker decides to instead challenge incumbent Gov. Chris Christie (R) in his 2013 reelection battle. In hypothetical match-ups between Guadagno and the Democratic congressmen, the race significantly narrows. Andrews leads Guadagno 35-34 percent, while a match-up with Pallone results in a tie.
Earlier this year, Booker told Democrats he was "strongly considering his options at the end of my term," according to the Newark Star-Ledger, but had not yet decided on a run for either governor or the Senate.
The PPP poll was conducted from Nov. 26 to 28 and has a 4-point margin of error.