Stockton Poll: Van Drew, Hugin Retain Leads in 2nd District

stockton poll

Galloway, N.J. -  Democrat Jeff Van Drew retains a 17-percentage-point lead over Republican Seth Grossman in race for the open 2nd Congressional District House seat, according to a Stockton University poll released today.

Van Drew, a state senator, leads Grossman 55 percent to 38 percent among likely voters when those leaning toward a candidate are included. Five percent say they will vote for some other candidate and 2 percent are unsure or picking nobody. The poll reflects a tightening of the race from a Stockton Poll released Sept. 19, when Van Drew held a 23-point lead.

Currently, the Democrat leads by double-digit percentages in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Ocean counties and ties in Salem County. Grossman leads only in the Gloucester County section of the 2nd District.

The poll of 597 likely voters finds that 52 percent hold a favorable view of Van Drew while 16 percent see him unfavorably and 32 percent are unfamiliar with him. About half (49 percent) are not familiar with Grossman; in Atlantic County, where he served as a county freeholder and Atlantic City councilman, one-third are unfamiliar. Twenty-eight percent district-wide view him favorably and 23 percent unfavorably.

Van Drew’s Democratic base is solidly behind him (92 percent). He is winning independents 66 percent to 31 percent and gets 13 percent of Republicans. Grossman is supported by 78 percent of Republicans and gets virtually no Democratic support. Grossman and Van Drew are statically tied among men, but women voters prefer Van Drew to Grossman by 31 percentage points.

“Senator Van Drew has been a member of the New Jersey Legislature since 2002, so it is clear that he is known and liked by a majority of 2nd District voters. His double-digit lead also reflects the evolving political makeup of the congressional district that has sent a Republican to Congress – Frank LoBiondo -- for the past 24 years,” said Michael Klein, interim executive director of the Hughes Center. “Between November 2017 and September 2018, 59 percent of the new voters in District 2 – almost 4,700 out of 7,965 -- registered as Democrats, and the number of unaffiliated voters shrank by over 1,500. The voters are picking sides, and many are lining up against the party of President Trump, whose job performance was rated fair or poor by over 57 percent of the respondents to our poll.” 

The Stockton Polling Institute of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University interviewed 597 adult residents of the 2nd District who were screened as likely voters. Live interviewers working from the Stockton campus called landline and cell telephones Oct. 17-23, 2018. The poll’s margin of error is +/- 4.0 percentage points.

The U.S. Senate race in District 2 tightened slightly since the Stockton Poll found Republican Bob Hugin ahead by 10 percentage points in a district won six years ago by incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez. In the new poll, Hugin leads Menendez 47 percent to 40 percent with voters who lean toward a candidate included. Five percent are for Libertarian Murray Sabrin with 5 percent voting for some other candidate and 3 percent undecided.

Menendez, who has been attacked by Hugin over corruption charges that were dismissed after a mistrial, is seen unfavorably by 59 percent in the district, and favorably by 29 percent. Hugin is viewed favorably by 40 percent and unfavorably by 26 percent, and is not familiar to 35 percent.

Health care is cited most often as the most important issue in the election, by 12 percent. Ten percent say helping Democrats to control Congress is their top issue, and 7 percent say Donald Trump is the major issue. Eight percent cite the economy and 7 percent cite taxes.

Eleven percent cite immigration issues, the second highest percentage in the poll. Grossman and Van Drew participated in a televised debate on the Stockton University campus on Oct. 10. In that debate, Grossman embraced President Trump’s agenda and emphasized a hard line on immigration. When asked directly about immigration, 72 percent in the poll say it is extremely important or a significant factor in deciding how to vote.

However, majorities reject the Trump positions on several specific issues. Sixty-nine percent say legal immigration is good for South Jersey, with only 7 percent calling it harmful and 22 percent saying it is neutral. Sixty-four percent support allowing undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children to remain here and apply for citizenship, while 31 percent oppose. Fifty-seven percent oppose building a wall along the southern border, and 41 percent support it. And 74 percent oppose a policy of separating families who enter the country illegally, while 19 percent support it.

Regarding the Stockton debate, which was cosponsored by the Hughes Center, The Press of Atlantic City and SNJ Today, 11 percent of respondents said they saw or heard the debate, not counting those who only read about it. Respondents say that Van Drew won the debate over Grossman by a 2-to-1 margin. A video of the hour-long debate can be viewed on the Hughes Center web site,

Complete poll results are on the Stockton Polling Institute web site.

About the Hughes Center

The William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy ( at Stockton University serves as a catalyst for research, analysis and innovative policy solutions on the economic, social and cultural issues facing New Jersey, and promotes the civic life of New Jersey through engagement, education and research. The center is named for William J. Hughes, whose distinguished career includes service in the U.S. House of Representatives, Ambassador to Panama and as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Stockton. The Hughes Center can be found on YouTube, and can be followed on Facebook @StocktonHughesCenter, Twitter @hughescenter and Instagram @ stockton_hughes_center .


The poll was conducted by the Stockton Polling Institute of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy. Live interviewers who are mostly Stockton University students polled 757 adult registered voters in the 2nd Congressional District, and 597 were screened as likely voters based on criteria including self-professed intention to vote on a scale of 1 to 10, having voted in New Jersey’s 2017 election, how closely voters are following the election, identification of their local polling place or having applied for or received a mail or absentee ballot. Interviewers working on the Stockton University campus called cell phones (71 percent of interviews) and landlines (28 percent) from Oct. 17-23, 2018. Both cell and landline sample included a mix of voter list supplemented by random digit dialing (RDD) sample. Data are weighted based on U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey 5-year data for the 2nd Congressional District on variables of age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education level and region. The poll's margin of error is +/- 4.0 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level. MOE is higher for subsets. Results for Q17 are not reported because the number of responses were considered too few to be statistically valid. The Stockton Polling Institute is a member of the American Association for Public Opinion Research.

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Diane D’Amico
Director of News and Media Relations
Stockton University
Galloway, N.J. 08205