The election race in New Jersey’s 7th District, where U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R) is battling to keep his seat, has tilted away from him, according to the Monmouth University Poll. Democrat Tom Malinowski now holds a narrow lead and is supported by 47 percent of potential voters compared to 39 percent support for Lance, the latest poll results show. (Potential voters are those who have participated in an election since 2010 or have newly registered to vote; they represent about 84 percent of all registered voters in the district.)
It is to Malinowski’s advantage that the 7th District has a large population of college-educated voters, who have swung more Democratic in the past two years. While Lance leads among white voters without a college degree (50 percent to 36 percent), Malinowski is ahead among college-educated white voters (50 percent to 39 percent) and among nonwhite voters regardless of education (64 percent to 20 percent).
But Lance “is still in the hunt,” the poll concludes, despite the low ratings in the 7th for President Donald Trump — the district is home to the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, where the president has spent a lot of time since taking office. “The fundamentals of this swing district favor Malinowski, but he has not been able to break clear of Lance’s deep roots here,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
Where things get really interesting is in the poll’s breakdown of support in different parts of the district: Lance is leading in his home base of Hunterdon County (49 percent to 38 percent), but nowhere else. Malinowski is running slightly ahead in the Morris and Warren portion of the district (44 percent to 38 percent), an area that usually supports Republicans. Not surprisingly, Malinowski has a large lead in the historically Democratic-leaning Union and Essex portion of the district (54 percent to 35 percent). Maybe the most interesting section of the district is in Somerset County, where Malinowski is ahead of Lance, 49 percent to 38 percent. This part of the district backed Republican Mitt Romney by five points in the 2012 presidential election but gave Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton a nearly six-point win four years later. (The president’s golf club is in this part of the district.)