Category Archives: Steve Lonegan

Analysis of Rutgers-Eagleton 2013 Pre-election Polls Released

Following inaccurate results for final pre-election polls in October 2013 (NJ Special Senate) and November 2013 (NJ Governor), the Eagleton Institute of Politics commissioned an outside study by Gary Langer of Langer Research Associates of New York to identify reasons for the outcomes of these polls. Today, The Eagleton Institute of Politics and Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling are releasing this analysis to the public as part of a commitment to transparency and education.

The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll reported a final pre-election poll for the special Senate election between then-Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a Democrat, and Republican former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan in which Booker held a 22-point lead. Booker ultimately won by 11 points. In the final November gubernatorial pre-election poll, Rutgers-Eagleton had Republican Governor Chris Christie ahead of his Democratic challenger state Senator Barbara Buono by 36 points: Christie won by 22.

The Langer report identifies the primary reason for the inaccurate results as the failure to put the “head-to-head” questions, which asked respondents for their vote intention, at or near the beginning of the questionnaire. Because these questions were asked after a series of other questions, it appears that respondents were “primed” to think positively about Governor Chris Christie in the November survey, which then may have led Democrats and independents in particular to over-report their likelihood of voting for the Governor. A similar process occurred with the October Senate poll, where voters were first reminded of how little they knew about Lonegan and how much they liked Booker before being asked the vote question.

Ruth B. Mandel, director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics stated that, “In response to these results, Eagleton chose to contract with an independent, highly respected, outside survey research firm to review its recent work and offer suggestions for improvement.” She added, “The Institute is committed to contributing to political knowledge in New Jersey and nationally with credible, impartial data. When we saw we had a problem, we knew we had to learn why and what to do about it.”

“Gary Langer and his colleagues spent many hours examining multiple aspects of our polling to understand what went wrong,” said David Redlawsk, director of Eagleton’s Center on Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) and professor of political science at Rutgers. “We are grateful for the efforts they put in and the advice they have provided, both in terms of this specific issue and general operations of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. The results of this report will make what we do even better.”

The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll has been a valued source of information about the views of New Jersey residents for over 40 years. As an academic-based survey research organization, ECPIP strives to be transparent and accessible. “We have a special obligation to take our educational mission seriously, which includes informing the public as well as learning from our own errors.” Redlawsk notes that survey research results released by the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, for example, aim to meet the transparency standards set by the American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). Further, in recent years, the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll has been providing open informal insights and perspectives about survey research from Redlawsk and members of his staff through its blog at https://eagletonpollblog.wordpress.com. And for many years full data from the Poll has been freely available, generally after a one-year period, at http://eagleton.libraries.rutgers.edu/.

Langer’s major finding is that the order in which the head-to-head ballot test questions were asked most likely added inadvertent bias to the results in both the October and November Polls, although the results came out in opposite partisan directions in the two polls. Decisions made by ECPIP to maintain the standard set of questions about political figures including Cory Booker and ratings of Chris Christie at the beginning of the questionnaire worked to particularly prime Democrats in the November poll and Republicans in the October poll to support the candidate from the other party – Christie or Booker.

Redlawsk noted that the cause was a decision to maintain an ongoing four-year series of questions about Governor Christie that have been asked at the very beginning of a Rutgers-Eagleton NJ Poll since the governor’s inauguration. “We made this decision purposefully to maintain the integrity of our time series,” said Redlawsk. “This long-term research has greatly informed our understanding of public opinion about Governor Christie, and we had concerns that moving these questions after a head-to-head vote question would bias those results for the same reason we ended up biasing the vote questions.”

Most pre-election head-to-head polls focus only on the election and do not include long batteries of additional questions. The Rutgers-Eagleton Poll was unable to field separate pre-election surveys and thus combined the head-to-head polls with the regular surveys of New Jersey public opinion. “In retrospect, this was the wrong choice when one goal was to be as accurate as possible with pre-election numbers,” noted Redlawsk. “We should have either fielded a separate poll or just focused on our long-term work, rather than trying to do both at the same time.”

The Langer report on the cause of the pre-election poll mis-estimates is available to the public now on the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll website at http://eagletonpoll.rutgers.edu (PDF).

 

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Filed under 2013 NJ Election, Buono, Chris Christie, Cory Booker, NJ Senate 2013 Special Election, Steve Lonegan

Rutgers-Eagleton Poll: Booker Lead Greater than Expected

CLICK HERE FOR THE TEXT OF THE 10/14 BOOKER-LONEGAN RELEASE FROM THE RUTGERS-EAGLETON POLL. Alternatively, the full text of the release follows a somewhat lengthy speculation on why this poll differs from a brand new Monmouth poll showing a much smaller margin for Booker.

The following analysis is by Rutgers-Eagleton Poll Director David Redlawsk  [EDITS as noted 6:40pm EDT, 10/14/13].

Well, these are the times that pollsters hate. I think I know how the Gallup people must have felt when their 2012 vote models showed Romney ahead in the waning days of last year’s election, something that was clearly not true.

Why, you ask? Because today’s Rutgers-Eagleton Poll puts Cory Booker up 22-points on Steve Lonegan, a far larger margin than any other recent poll, and, in particular well above Monmouth’s 10-point lead for Booker, also out today. Monmouth’s polling dates fall within the dates we polled as well – though we were in the field longer. However, looking at our daily numbers we don’t think the longer fielding time is the issue, though we do see movement more toward than away from Booker over the last week, especially on our last day of polling, Oct 13, the day after Monmouth ended their poll. In fact, of our week of polling, the two days with the best Lonegan performance are the 10th and 12th, two of the three days Monmouth polled.

Still, I am puzzled, to be quite honest. I understood our large margin for Booker right after the primary – at that time Lonegan had gotten nothing but bad press and Booker had just come off a huge primary victory. But here it is harder to see what’s happening.

What’s especially odd from our perspective is that numbers other than the vote – for example, favorability – are very similar between the two polls.

So, anyway, which is it: Booker up 10, or Booker up 22?

We’ve looked at our data over and over. We’ve looked at other indicators besides the Booker-Lonegan race and those numbers seem quite reasonable, as we’ll report later. We looked at our weighted partisan breakdown for likely voters, and that’s not substantially different either. What is different between us and Monmouth today? We see a few key areas:

Gender questions

No, we don’t mean the Lonegan campaign’s attacks on Booker’s masculinity. That’s irrelevant.  But the difference between how men and women plan to vote does matter.

Monmouth shows essentially NO gender gap – in their poll 53% of men and 51% of women support Booker. We show a huge gender gap: 51% of men support Booker (basically the same as Monmouth) but we have 67% of women on his side (versus only 27% voting for Lonegan.) This alone could account for much of the difference. Interestingly, other polls have also shown a gender gap, most notably a recent Quinnipiac poll which had women going for Booker 62%-31%, although they showed men supporting Lonegan 51%-44% .

Independence

We have independent voters supporting Booker over Lonegan by a margin of 49% to 41%. But Monmouth’s poll has it the opposite: independents are 48% Lonegan and 43% Booker. we also have more Democrats (96%) supporting Booker and fewer Republicans (74%) supporting Lonegan. For Monmouth the number are 90% and 86% respectively.

Is it the Old Folks?

In our poll, voters 65 and over favor Booker 53%-43% over Lonegan.  Monmouth does not report an age crosstabulation so we do not know how different we are. However, we do know that Monmouth has a lot more senior citizens in its Likely Voter sample, at 36% of all voters, where we have just 30% of likely voters 65 and over. Since older people are more likely to support Lonegan, that could be a factor.

METHODOLOGY!  [EDIT, 6:40PM, 10/13: Huffpost Pollster talks about this point this evening…]

So here’s an interesting issue – Monmouth is using IVR for part of their polling. IVR stands for Interactive Voice Response – or in other words, robo-polling. In this method, computers dial landline numbers and respondents answer computer generated questions by keying responses on their phone keypad. With IVR the pollster has no idea who they are actually talking to – it could be anyone who picks up the phone. There is no human interaction. For the most part people who respond to IVR polls are often quite different from those who respond to live callers. Monmouth knows this so they supplement the IVR with live caller cellphones and some live landlines.  But more than half their sample is from IVR. It would be very interesting to see what the numbers say just for the IVR sample, compared to their live callers. However, they do not report this. Maybe they see no difference. [EDIT: Patrick Murray at Monmouth tells Huffpost that they did in fact see no difference. But since that was NOT disclosed in their press release or their methodology statement, it was impossible to know that when writing this post. I will note we don’t actually know what “no difference” means. Is in no difference in the marginals? Or no difference in the makeup of the samples? Pre or post-weighting?]

My guess is that IVR brings the older sample, and also results in the lack of a gender gap. But that’s only a guess right now. [EDIT, 6:40PM, 10/14: And apparently Patrick Murray suggests the same gender result in both IVR and live landlines, but again he isn’t completely clear on this.]

Race

This leads to one other interesting possibility. With IVR respondents don’t have to talk to anyone. This lessens what we call “social desireabilty” which has been shown to matter when race and ethnicity are a factor in preferences. People know it is “wrong” to express overtly racist attitudes. Likewise, there has been evidence in the past that voters may over report support for a non-white candidate in a live-caller poll. IVR does not have this problem – people can be honest without anyone knowing except the computer. Is it a factor here? I’m really not sure how deeply race comes into this election. If it does, then we may well get more supporters for Booker in our live calling than he will get in the privacy of the voting booth.

Finally, it’s also about likely voters and sampling

Both Rutgers-Eagleton and Monmouth try to identify likely voters. From what Monmouth says in their release, they used a listed registered voter sample and consider people who voted in two of the last four general elections to be likely voters. If they asked any other questions to determine this, they did not say in their release so we assume they did not. [EDIT 6:40PM, 10/14: Apparently, according to Huffpost, Monmouth did ask two additional screening questions. But again this was not made clear in the Monmouth release or methodology statement.]

We use Random Digit Dialing (RDD), not a listed sample. The disadvantage is we do not know voting history, and we have to screen for registered voters – and people may lie about this. The advantage is that we can hear people talk, and can get to the right person. We also theoretically have better coverage in that many people do not provide phone numbers when they register or provide incorrect numbers. With RDD theoretically anyone can get a call.

We ask a series of questions to determine likely voters – including awareness of the election date, attention to the campaign, a direct “will you vote question”, and a vote history question. Combining these gives us a model for likely voters that has fewer older people, and slightly more white people, but about the same share of each party as Monmouth. So the likely voter screen does not seem to be a huge source of the difference, at least in terms of  partisan breakdown.

[EDIT 6:40PM, 10/14: We also checked different levels of screening that were more or less strict, based on different cutoffs on our questions. The results did not vary by more than a couple points.]

So…

The upshot is that we report numbers quite different from other recent polls. Are we certain about them? Of course not – there are many reasons we could be way off. But we could also be within the ballpark.  In the end, every poll is an estimate and some will be on the mark and some will be off. Take each one with a grain of salt. Looking across all polls, if I had to guess (as opposed to poll), I think Booker will win with a margin in the mid-teens.

Still, a lot depends on who remembers to vote on Wednesday, October 16 and how effective the campaigns are a getting out their supporters.  If we’re wrong, we’ll try to figure out what happened. If we’re right, well, you heard it here first!

Finally, we could have simply not released this poll, but we might as well put it out there and see if others can see a problem that we are missing.

RELEASE TEXT FOLLOWS:

RUTGERS-EAGLETON POLL: BOOKER HOLDS LARGER THAN EXPECTED LEAD OVER LONEGAN ON EVE OF SPECIAL SENATE ELECTION

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J – With just two days to go until the Oct. 16 special U.S. Senate election, Newark Mayor Cory Booker holds a 58 percent to 36 percent lead over former Republican Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan among likely voters, a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll finds. Another 3 percent prefer someone else, and about 3 percent remain undecided. While the Democrat’s lead is less than he enjoyed following the August primary, compared to other polls this latest Rutgers-Eagleton poll suggests Booker has recently gained in his bid to succeed the late Frank Lautenberg.

The debates between Booker and Lonegan, which highlighted the stark policy differences between them, may have played an important role in Booker’s current performance. While 43 percent of all likely voters paid some attention to a debate, independent voters who followed the debates strongly favor Booker, 59 percent to 37 percent. But independents ignoring the debates prefer Lonegan by a 45 percent to 42 percent margin.

For partisans, attention to the debate reinforced support for their own party’s candidate. At this point, Booker does much better than Lonegan within his party: 96 percent of likely Democrats are in Booker’s corner, while Lonegan wins only 74 percent of Republicans. GOP backers are less likely to have followed the debates: 36 percent compared to 49 percent of Democrats and 43 percent of likely independent voters.

“Other recent polls showed a narrower lead for Booker, but voters we talked to seem to have moved back in his direction,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers. “The debates presented a stark picture of the differences between the candidates, which appears to have led independents to prefer Booker. While both candidates came out swinging, Lonegan’s attacks bordered on the taboo, with his ‘floating dead bodies’ and ‘big black hole’ comments about Newark – reminiscent of the rhetoric that got him into hot water early in the campaign. Independents in particular dislike these kinds of attack.”

Results are from a sample of 513 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.3 percentage points. These likely voters are part of a sample of 798 registered voters polled statewide using live callers to both landline and cell phone households from Oct. 7-13.

Voters paying some attention

The uniqueness of the special Senate election makes estimates of turnout difficult and suggests that the final result will be unusually dependent on the candidates’ abilities to motivate their supporters. There is some evidence that voters are paying attention. More than half of registered voters know there is an election in October, and 45 percent know it will be held Oct. 16. Just over half are following the election at least fairly closely, with about one in five paying very close attention. Sixty percent of registered voters claim they are very likely to vote Wednesday.

Booker holds a commanding lead with minority voters, urbanites and voters in the South Jersey/Philadelphia region. Lonegan leads among voters in shore counties, 46 percent to 44 percent, while losing northwestern exurban voters, 51 percent to 41 percent, a better performance than his statewide margin.

“Here’s the key: if the Booker campaign can turn out urban voters and Democrats who say they will vote, he will be in the range we estimate,” said Redlawsk. “If Lonegan’s turnout operation is stronger and Booker’s base stays home thinking it is all wrapped up, then all bets are off.”

Booker ratings down slightly on Lonegan attacks

Lonegan’s attacks throughout the campaign appear to have had some impact. While Booker receives positive ratings from 54 percent of likely voters, this is a nine-point drop from an early September Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Concurrently, his unfavorability has almost doubled to 32 percent.  Still, asked to rate the Democrat on a scale of 0 to 100 degrees, voters remain warm toward Booker with an average score of 56 degrees. The overriding emotional response to Booker is “hope,” with 48 percent saying his campaign makes them feel hopeful and 33 percent proud. In contrast, only 12 percent are angered and 19 percent worried by Booker.

Lonegan, however, continues to leave either a negative impression or none at all on most likely voters. While favorable impressions of the Republican have risen eight points to 30 percent, the share of voters who hold unfavorable impressions climbed to 34 percent. Over one third have no opinion on the GOP candidate. In general, likely voters are quite cool toward Lonegan; he averages only 41 degrees on the poll’s thermometer. Voters feel more negative about Lonegan than Booker: 37 percent are worried, and 30 percent angered by his campaign. Thirty percent are hopeful and 16 percent are proud of the candidate.

Many voters see Booker as a self-promoter

Booker is not without weaknesses. A third of likely voters say Booker is more about self-promotion and that life in Newark has improved little under this watch. While Lonegan has gained some support though this line of attack, a plurality (47 percent) continues to believe Booker has made real improvement in Newark.

Booker’s position on issues is seen as “about right” for 42 percent of likely voters, but 44 percent think he is too liberal, even for blue New Jersey. Lonegan, however, is thought too conservative by a large majority of likely voters; 60 percent say he is further to the right than most of the state, while only 18 percent say his views are right on par with the preferences of New Jerseyans.

“By all measures, voters see Booker as somewhat more in tune with New Jersey and see Lonegan as less so,” said Redlawsk. “Although Lonegan has tarnished Booker’s image, Booker remains the clear preference of voters, generating warmer feelings and a strongly positive impression, and taking positions more in line with what voters want.”

The party base, women and independents support Booker

Booker’s advantage over Lonegan is driven by overwhelming support from his own party base and a winning margin with independents. Ninety-six percent of likely Democratic voters back Booker, compared to only 74 percent of likely Republican voters who support Lonegan.  Independents also are in Booker’s corner, 49 percent to 41 percent for Lonegan. Newark’s mayor captures 16 percent of the Republican vote, while Lonegan peels off only 2 percent of Democrats.

Booker leads across virtually all demographic groups. While both men and women go for Booker, women are 13 points more likely than men to say they will vote for the Democrat and 18 points less likely than men to say they will vote for his opponent, evidencing a wide gender gap.

Booker also gets support from almost 9 in 10 likely voters who say he has made a real difference in Newark, but among those who think Booker is too much about his own self-promotion, only one in five say they will vote for him.

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Filed under 2013 NJ Election, Cory Booker, NJ Senate 2013 Special Election, Steve Lonegan

LIKELY VOTERS GIVE BOOKER LARGE LEAD, MOST EXPECT HIM TO WIN; LONEGAN WIDELY UNKNOWN

We start this next round of polling results with the upcoming special U.S. Senate election, to be held on October 16. The candidates are Newark Mayor Cory Booker and former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan. It has been less than a month since the primary election that made both their party’s nominee, though neither had much trouble winning their respective primaries. Turnout in the Democratic primary surprised most observers, with more than 20% of Democrats going to the polls, much higher than expected. Republican turnout was quite low, however. Perhaps this reflected a less competitive Republican primary, or maybe a lack of enthusiasm for Lonegan. Hard to tell. But in our first post-primary head-to-head test of the two candidates, less than strong Republican numbers suggest it might have been the latter.

Booker holds on to 93% of Democrats, with only 3% of Democrats crossing over to support Lonegan. But nearly one in five Republicans says they will vote for Booker. Given this, along with strong registered voter advantage Democrats hold and a solid showing among independents, Booker now holds a large 64% – 29% lead among the likely Senate voters in our sample. Is the race really that lopsided? Or are we reflecting a couple bad media weeks for Lonegan including the Tweet by one of his staff of a racially insensitive map of Newark and Lonegan’s recent questions about Booker’s masculinity. Neither has created a positive image for the Republican. In fact, his core problem could be he has no image at all among a majority of likely voters, and among those with an impression, half are positive and half are negative. Meanwhile, ratings of Booker are overwhelmingly positive among likely voters.

One thing of note in this likely voter sample – it is very Democratic, in fact 23 points more Democrat than Republican. We don’t weight likely voter samples to party registration, so this is what we actually found in our polling. This matters, given that nearly all Democrats say they will vote for Booker. Obviously the more Democrats who make it through the likely voter screen the better the result for Booker. So we took a look to see what would happen if the sample were less Democratic, say 40% Democrat and 22% Republican, that is, 18 points more Democratic than Republican instead of 23 points. Assuming nothing else changed, we’d find a 30 point lead for Booker. No matter how we slice the sample Booker is doing very well. It would take a massive Republican turnout assumption to change this right now.

A note about likely voters in this poll. It is difficult to figure out who will show up for a special election on a Wednesday in mid-October. In the end we decided on three simple screens: when the respondent last voted (this year, last year, somewhere in the past before that), how closely they are following the senate election, and self-stated likelihood of voting in the senate election. These three questions result in a 0-10 scale; we have somewhat arbitrarily decided that those scoring 7 or higher are likely voters. This gives us 462 LVs in a sample of 814 registered voters. As it turns out it doesn’t make a lot of difference where we set the cutoff, so this seems reasonable.

The text of the release follows. Click here for a PDF of the release text with questions and tables.

LIKELY VOTERS GIVE BOOKER LARGE LEAD, MOST EXPECT HIM TO WIN; LONEGAN WIDELY UNKNOWN

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – With just over five weeks until the Oct. 16 special U.S. Senate election, Newark Mayor Cory Booker has opened a large lead over former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of likely voters support Booker, 29 percent plan to vote for Lonegan and 6 percent are undecided.

Most likely voters think Booker, a Democrat, will win – including Republicans and Lonegan voters. And in a campaign where the candidates disagree on almost everything, solid majorities in both camps say candidate’s issue positions are more important than leadership style.

As in the primary, Booker benefits from name recognition supported by his positive impression on most voters; 63 percent (versus 19 percent unfavorable), have a favorable impression of Booker, while 17 percent are neutral or simply do not know him. Lonegan, however, leaves no impression with more than half of likely voters. Among those with an impression, 22 percent are favorable and 22 percent are unfavorable.

The special election is drawing modest attention among registered voters: just over half claim they are following the election at least fairly closely with about a quarter giving it close attention. Just under 60 percent of registered voters say they are very likely to vote in the October election.

“Booker appears to be building an insurmountable lead,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers. “While special elections are notoriously hard to predict, given uncertainties about turnout, Booker’s name recognition, celebrity-type status and stances on issues that align more with New Jersey’s ‘blue’ political climate seem to be driving momentum toward him and away from Lonegan. On top of that the Republican’s most recent news highlights attacking Booker’s masculinity have been quite unflattering.”

Results come from a sample of 462 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percentage points. All totaled, 925 New Jersey adults were polled statewide among both landline and cell phone households from Sept. 3-9. Within this adult sample are 814 registered voters, with a margin of error of +/-3.4 percentage points, from which the likely voter sample is taken.

Booker’s lead wide across the board

Booker’s double-digit advantage over Lonegan is driven by overwhelming support from his own party base and independents. More than 90 percent of likely Democratic voters back Booker, compared to only three-quarters of likely Republican voters who support Lonegan. Among independents, Booker holds a 52 percent to 38 percent lead. Booker even captures 19 percent of the Republican vote while Lonegan peels off only 3 percent of Democrats.

“The nearly unanimous party support is a key for Booker,” said Redlawsk. “Democrats seem motivated in this election, and may even be more likely to turn out than Republicans, who are much more split on their candidate.”

Booker handily leads across virtually all demographic groups. He especially wins over likely women voters by a huge margin, 73 percent to 21 percent. Likely male voters show a tighter race – 55 percent for Booker to 37 percent for Lonegan. Booker takes a commanding lead with minority voters, as well as younger voters and urbanites.

Booker also gets favorable ratings from some who do not plan to vote for him, but most with a favorable impression support him. Lonegan also gets majority support from those with a favorable impression of him. The problem is there are many fewer of these voters. Moreover, a quarter of those who like Lonegan still plan to vote for Booker, and Booker overwhelmingly wins the large number who have no opinion of Lonegan.

Voters paying some attention

A majority of all registered voters are paying some attention to the Senate race; 24 percent are watching it very closely and 32 percent fairly closely. But 44 percent are paying little attention and are not likely to vote. Democrats and independents are more likely than Republicans to be following the campaign very closely. Booker wins two-thirds of registered voters paying very close attention but only leads 52 to 27 percent among those paying just some attention. Lonegan’s battle will be uphill even if most registered voters show up. Among those with any chance of voting, Booker still holds an almost insurmountable 59 percent to 26 percent lead. Increasing turnout does not seem likely to pay off for Lonegan, at least right now, noted Redlawsk.

Most voters say issues are key

More than 60 percent of all likely voters say that a candidate’s stance on issues is more important than leadership style. Men are nine points more likely than women to prefer issues over style, though a solid majority of both genders call issues more important. Regardless, Booker wins among both groups: those who favor issues and those who vote for style.

About 80% percent of likely voters expect Booker to win, no matter their personal preference.  Sixty-four percent of Republicans, 60 percent of conservatives, and 69 percent of those favoring Lonegan believe Booker will win the special Senate election. Every demographic group believes the odds are against Lonegan.

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Filed under 2013 NJ Election, Cory Booker, NJ Senate 2013 Special Election, NJ Voters, Steve Lonegan