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New Jersey: A Poll, Robocalls and Presidential Politics

Rep. Bill Pascrell (above) was endorsed by Georgia Rep. John Lewis in his New Jersey race against Rep. Steven Rothman. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Rep. Bill Pascrell (above) was endorsed by Georgia Rep. John Lewis in his New Jersey race against Rep. Steven Rothman. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With less than two weeks until the primary, today was a big day in the Member-versus-Member race between Demcratic Reps. Bill Pascrell and Steven Rothman of New Jersey.

Before the close of business, political observers got their first glimpse of polling, the Pascrell camp released robocalls from President Bill Clinton and Obama senior adviser David Axelrod made news while campaigning for Rothman in the district.

The three-tenths of a point difference was well within the 5 point margin of error. The poll was conducted by Fred Yang of Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group. The survey took place May 8-9 and had a sample of 406 likely Democratic voters.

“Our polls, which we’re not releasing, show a very different story and show Congressman Rothman with a much larger lead,” Rothman spokesman Paul Swibinski said. He then criticized the Pascrell campaign for not releasing the poll in its entirety.

“Releasing partial poll results is what a desperate campaign does,” he added.

According to a poll memo, 56 percent of the sample was from Rothman’s native Bergen County, 33 percent of those surveyed were natives of Pascrell’s home turf of Passaic County and 11 percent of respondents were from Hudson County. The percentages were based on “past turnout patterns for Democratic primary voters.”

New Jersey 9th residents also began receiving robocalls from President Bill Clinton on Pascrell’s behalf. Clinton endorsed Pascrell in early May.

Clinton calls Pascrell a “friend,” and says, “I know him well.” He also mentions Pascrell’s capacity to fight the “tea party,” which is a toxic term in the district.

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Robocalls from Bill Clinton have been effective in the past. It is one of the reasons businessman John Delaney defeated an establishment candidate in Maryland’s 9th district Democratic primary in April.

Meanwhile, Axelrod campaigned for Rothman at an event in Wood-Ridge. Swibinksi noted that the mayor of Pascrell’s hometown of Paterson was in attendance. When PolitickerNJ asked Mayor Jeff Jones if his attendance was an explicit endorsement, he only said, “I’m here.”

In national politics, Axelrod touched on the Obama presidential campaign’s recent flare up with Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D). Booker criticized an Obama campaign television ad on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” on NBC.

“We disagree, but to the extent that he clarified his remarks, I think it’s fine,” he told PolitickerNJ.

Wood-Ridge is about a 20-minute drive to Newark.

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