Newark Mayor Cory Booker has said he won't officially announce whether he'll run for Senate in 2014 until after this year's gubernatorial race, but a new poll released Wednesday shows the mayor would begin the contest with a commanding lead over two potential Democratic primary opponents.
Asked which Democrat they would want to win the open Senate seat, Booker is the choice of 50 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents in the new Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind survey. Democratic Reps. Rush Holt and Frank Pallone, both of whom are reportedly considering running for the state's open Senate seat, received the support of 7 and 4 percent, respectively, while 32 percent said they were undecided.
While Booker has said he won't make his plans known until after the November elections, he is exploring a run to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who announced last month that he won't seek reelection. In the previous Fairleigh Dickinson poll, conducted before Lautenberg's announcement, Booker led the senator, 42 percent to 20 percent.
Booker's public flirtations with the race in the weeks before Lautenberg announced his decision irritated the senator and his supporters, leading to speculation that Booker's chances in the Democratic primary could suffer from a lack of support from some state party power brokers. But Booker's celebrity and popularity have him poised to begin the Democratic primary race as a heavy favorite.
The poll also shows Booker favored to win the general election in a hypothetical match-up with longtime talk show host Geraldo Rivera, who has said he might seek the GOP nomination. Booker leads Rivera, 52 percent to 21 percent, among all registered voters, while 26 percent are undecided.
The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll was conducted March 4-10. It surveyed 702 registered voters, for a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.7 percentage points. The subsample of 323 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents includes a margin of error of plus-or-minus 5.5 percentage points.