Democratic state Sen. Jeff Van Drew holds a comfortable lead among 1st District voters less than six weeks before the election, according to a poll released Friday by Richard Stockton College.

The poll from the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy also showed Van Drew’s running mates for Assembly, Nelson Albano and Bob Andrzejczak, in the lead in much tighter races.

The phone poll included interviews with 601 likely voters from the district, which includes all of Cape May County and parts of Cumberland and Atlantic counties. The poll had a margin of error of 3.9 percent either way.

The poll also had Republican Gov. Chris Christie leading Democratic challenger Sen. Barbara Buono 60 percent to 28 percent.

Van Drew, a long-time incumbent, led political newcomer Susan Adelizzi-Schmidt 62 percent to 29 percent. Both sides seemed to downplay the numbers.

“It’s gratifying to see but we don’t take anything for granted. The only poll that matters is the poll on election day,” said Allison Murphy, Van Drew’s campaign manager.

Adelizzi-Schmidt said there are still 40 days left to the campaign, and she won’t be disturbed by what one poll indicates.

“Our internal numbers are showing a completely different story. I’m very confident we will win the race on Election Day Nov. 5,” Adelizzi-Schmidt said.

Chris Russell, a consultant for the Republican Party, said the September Stockton Poll on the previous 1st District Senate race had Van Drew ahead by 56 percent to 23 percent for Republican challenger David DeWeese, but the outcome was closer.

“He was down 33 points and ending up falling short by 7,” said Russell. “We feel real good about where we are internally.”

This year’s poll also shows the Democrats, both incumbents, ahead in the Assembly races, but they are much closer. Albano leads with 24 percent followed by Andrzejczak at 21 percent. Seventeen percent of those polled said if the election were held today, they would vote for Republicans Sam Fiocchi and Kristine Gabor. Daniel J. Douglas, director of the center, said it appears at least one of the Assembly seats is “up for grabs.”

Voters have identified jobs, taxes and the economy as the major issues. Both sides have issued platforms addressing these issues.

It did not surprise Murphy that voters would favor a Republican governor by a 2-1 margin but also a Democrat for Senate by a similar margin.

“They’re voting for the person. They look at the individual candidates,” Murphy said.

Murphy said she took it as “a good sign” Albano is still in front, as the Republicans have hammered him recently over a state ethics investigation into his behavior following a traffic stop in 2012.

The poll delves into name recognition, noting Van Drew has it after years in office while 64 percent of those polled were not familiar with Adelizzi-Schmidt. Only 26 percent did not know Albano, but the numbers were over 50 percent for Andrzejczak, who has only been in office several months after taking over the unexpired term of Matt Milam; and for Gabor, a Cape May County freeholder; and Fiocchi, a Cumberland County freeholder.

In other polling, Democrat Cory Booker leads Republican Steve Lonegan in the special October election for U.S. Senate. Booker holds a 45.6 to 38.4 percent lead.

The poll also had some larger insights into what voters were thinking. It found 54 percent believe New Jersey is heading in the right direction while 32 percent disagree. It found 74 percent say property taxes have increased in the past three years. It found voters support ballot questions to raise the minimum wage and allow veteran’s groups to use raffles for operating expenses.

How important is a Christie endorsement? It’s pretty even, with 32 percent saying it would make them more likely to vote for a candidate while 31 percent said it would make them less likely. Another 32 percent said it made no difference.

“I don’t think people worry too much about endorsements in this district. They’ve proven time and time again they’re an intelligent electorate that looks at the individual,” Murphy said.

Contact Richard Degener:

609-463-6711

More than 30 years’ experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines in Illinois, Colorado, Texas and New Jersey and 1985 winner of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association’s John Murphy Award for copy editing.