World Series could be game-changer for New Jersey governor’s race

One of New Jersey’s gubernatorial candidates will strike out in Tuesday’s election — and it could be baseball’s fault.

New Jersey happens to be sandwiched between the two cities taking part in the World Series.

What that means for the state’s governor’s race is a topic of much debate.

Most agree that the race will be affected in some way by what happens between the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies, both of whom play within miles of the New Jersey border and have legions of fans across the Garden State.

They just don’t know how it will be affected.

Will voters be distracted by their teams being in the Fall Classic? Will one team win by Monday’s Game 5, spurring turnout in certain areas, while the loser’s fans stay home and sulk? Will people watching the games on TV expose themselves to even more campaign ads, and how will that affect turnout?

And, most important of all, who does it all help — Gov. Jon Corzine (D) or Republican challenger Chris Christie?

No one can say for sure, including the two campaigns, which are busy dealing with the uncertainty created by the nation’s original pastime.

Election Day isn’t a game day, which helps, but it is between Monday’s Game 5 and Wednesday’s Game 6, should either be necessary.

A Public Policy Polling survey found Christie leading Corzine 46-36 among Yankees fans, while the two tied at 40 among Phillies fans. So if the Yankees win early, maybe Christie gets a bump.

Of course, both men profess to be Yankees fans (there are far more Yankees fans than Phillies fans in the state), so allegiance to their team shouldn’t be much of a campaign issue.

 — A.B.

Specter may be most vulnerable senator
Conventional wisdom has it that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) are the most vulnerable Democrats up for reelection in 2010. But Sen. Arlen Specter is starting to give them a run for their money.

Specter (D-Pa.) has seen his poll numbers decline sharply since he switched parties six months ago, with just 23 percent of voters in a new Franklin & Marshall College poll now saying he deserves reelection. And the other numbers don’t get much better.

He also has his lowest approval rating in the poll’s 18-year history, at 29 percent positive and 64 percent negative.

That’s significantly lower than Reid’s approval rating (36 percent in a recent Research 2000 poll) or Dodd’s (43 percent in a Quinnipiac poll last month).
Before Specter’s party switch, 40 percent of voters in the same poll said he deserved reelection, while 46 percent said it was time for someone else. His reelect dropped to 34 percent in August and has been shown below 40 in other polls as well.

Specter has also seen his edge over Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) in their primary match-up decline, from 26 points in August to 12 points now, according to the Franklin & Marshall poll. Specter leads Sestak 30-18, after leading him 37-11 in the August poll.

Specter is virtually tied with former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) in the general election, leading 33-31. Toomey would lead Sestak 28-20.


Scozzafava gets a backer! Well, kind of

The last several weeks have been rough for Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, the Republican candidate to fill Army Secretary John McHugh’s House seat.

Most prominent Republicans who endorsed in the race are picking her opponent, Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, and many Democrats view Scozzafava as dead in the water. In fact, Scozzafava has seen more than $1 million in negative ads run against her in the past two months.

But Scozzafava has one new backer. A new advertisement lauds her as the candidate progressives can vote for “with pride.”

“Dede supports President Obama’s efforts to stimulate our economy. Dede supports organized labor’s drive to expand membership. And Dede is the only candidate for Congress who supports marriage equality,” the ad says.

It’s a bright, sunny, positive ad in a race that has been dour and negative. The only problem: It’s not the message Scozzafava wants to embrace as she seeks support from the district’s Republican voters.

In fact, the ad is sponsored by Common Sense in America LLC, a new 527 organization affiliated with an organizer of the Arkansas branch of the Club for Growth. That would be the same Club for Growth that has spent $330,000 on behalf of Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party nominee.

The ad, backed by $150,000, will be broadcast on cable and in the district, said Dan Bloom, a spokesman for the group. It is the organization’s first activity, but it will not be their last: Bloom said Common Sense in America will become a presence between now and next year’s elections.

And, with national Democrats turning all their fire on Hoffman and acknowledging he has a shot to win, they may be a presence already.

— R.W.