New Jersey state Sen. Barbara Buono is finding out that it's difficult to close a 30-plus-point gap in the polls when roughly four out of five voters don't know anything about you.
A new Quinnipiac University poll released early Wednesday shows Buono, the almost-certain Democratic nominee in this year's gubernatorial race, trailing popular GOP Gov. Chris Christie, 58 percent to 26 percent. Two-thirds of voters approve of the way Christie is handling his job, and 66 percent have a favorable opinion of him, according to the poll.
But Buono remains little-known in the state. Twelve percent of voters have a favorable opinion of her, and nine percent view her unfavorably. A staggering 78 percent of voters -- and 83 percent of female voters -- say they haven't heard enough about her to form an opinion.
"She's running an energetic campaign, piling up endorsements," said Mickey Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. But Buono "hasn't been able to introduce herself yet to New Jersey voters," Carroll added.
A Rutgers-Eagleton poll released last week also showed Christie with a 30-point lead.
Democrats can take solace in the fact that, while 66 percent of voters think Christie deserves to be reelected, voters don't want to hand Republicans control of the legislative branch, too: 45 percent want Democrats to control the state legislature, compared to 38 percent who want GOP control.
And things are also looking up for scandal-plagued Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.: 44 percent approve of his job performance, up from 40 percent last month, and 36 percent at the height of the controversy surrounding Menendez's relationship with a campaign donor in Feburary. Only 32 percent disapprove of Menendez, down from 37 percent last month, and 41 percent in February.
The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted April 19-22, surveying 1,112 registered voters. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 2.9 percentage points.