Poll: Democrats prefer Booker to Lautenberg by wide margin

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Among potential Democratic primary voters surveyed by the Monmouth University Polling Institute, Booker leads Lautenberg by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, with 40 percent support to Lautenberg's 25 percent support. Every other potential contender has low single-digit support.

Booker announced his intentions to seek Lautenberg's seat, rather than challenge Gov. Chris Christie (R), late last year, a decision that drew the ire of many in New Jersey who felt it was disrespectful to come out for the seat before Lautenberg had publicly made a decision on whether he plans to run for reelection.

No other Democrats have announced bids for the seat, but a Booker nomination is not a sure thing. A slight plurality of likely New Jersey Democratic primary voters, 38 percent, say the party should rally around Booker if Lautenberg does retire, as many in the state expect, but 31 percent say other candidates should get into the race.

If a Democrat does hold the seat — the likely outcome of the 2014 senate race — a plurality of registered voters don't have a preference, but more (35 percent) would prefer another Democrat than the 15 percent who would prefer Lautenberg.

Democratic voters would prefer another candidate than Lautenberg by a slight margin, with 31 percent saying they want someone else in the seat, while 22 percent say they prefer the incumbent.

But it seems the 89-year-old senator's age doesn't have as much to do with voters' feelings on his tenure as was thought: 48 percent of those polled don't think he's too old to do his job effectively, while 34 percent do believe his age is an issue.

However, that may be because 46 percent of voters believe he's at least a decade younger than he actually is. Only 33 percent of those polled think he's in his 80s. And 57 percent of those who do peg him in his 80s believe he is too old to do his job effectively, indicating a Democratic primary challenger may see an opening in publicizing Lautenberg's age going forward.

The poll was conducted among 803 New Jersey adults from Feb. 6-10 and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points. The section concerning Democratic primary voters has a margin of error of 7.1 percentage points.