Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

NJ Senate Poll; SCOTUS’ Arizona Ruling

In Courts, Senate on June 18, 2013 at 12:07 pm

New Jersey

Immediately upon New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) scheduling the special Senate election to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D), both Quinnipiac University and Rutgers-Eagleton went into the field to measure the Garden State electorate. Both pollsters produced a similar conclusion — Newark Mayor Cory Booker is opening up a wide lead in the Democratic primary — but their samples sizes of less than 350 respondents were unacceptably low in a larger population state.

Now, Rasmussen Reports (June 12-13; 1,000 likely New Jersey voters) confirms that Booker does indeed have a huge lead derived from a much larger survey sample. Though the methodology does not specifically identify how many people (but undoubtedly larger than 350 individuals and presumably likely Democratic primary voters) were asked to choose among Mayor Booker, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ-6) and Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ-12), and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, the results were almost identical to what Quinnipiac and Rutgers-Eagleton originally found.

According to RR, Booker would command support from 54 percent of the Democratic voters, followed by Holt with 11 percent, and Pallone at 8 percent. Oliver trailed the pack registering just 5 percent preference.

For the special general election, tested among all 1,000 respondents, Booker leads former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan (R) 50-33 percent.

The special primary is scheduled for Aug. 13, followed by the deciding vote on Oct. 16. The winner will serve the balance of Sen. Lautenberg’s final term, and is eligible to stand for election to a full six-year stint during the regular 2014 election.

Arizona

Yesterday, the US Supreme Court released its ruling on the Arizona v. The Arizona Inter Tribal Council voter registration case and the decision proved to be at least a partial victory for the plaintiff Indian tribe. The Grand Canyon State, by voter initiative, had required proof of citizenship when registering to vote. Under federal law, the petitioning individual needed only to swear that he or she is a citizen of the United States when filing the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) form.

In effect, Justice Antonin Scalia’s majority 7-2 opinion stated that the NVRA does in fact supersede state law, and that Arizona’s law requiring additional proof of citizenship is now invalid. Joining Justice Scalia were Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. Justice Anthony Kennedy agreed with all but one part of the ruling. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented.

But, the court also gave the state a path to remedy the situation. Citing the Election Assistance Commission in the opinion, the suggestion was clear that the state may be able to obtain relief for their position before that particular body. If not, the door would then be open to return to the administrative and judicial process and potentially involve the concept of constitutional doubt.

For the time being, the state of Arizona must either adhere to the federal voter registration form and procedure for their state voter registration process, or develop a two-tiered system; one that covers federal elections and the other for Arizona state and local voting. Complexity seems to be the order of the day.

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