Stockton Poll: Dems Hold Slight Lead in 2nd District

polling institute

Galloway, N.J. - Democratic incumbents Vincent Mazzeo and John Armato lead Republican challengers John Risley and Philip Guenther in the state Assembly race in Atlantic County’s Legislative District 2, according to a Stockton University poll released today.

Mazzeo leads with 27 percent with Armato at 26 percent in the poll of 439 likely voters. Risley, a Republican Atlantic County freeholder, and Guenther, superintendent of the Atlantic County Vocational School District, each polled at 22 percent.

The Stockton Polling Institute of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University interviewed 439 adult residents of the 2nd District who were screened as likely voters. Interviewers working from the Stockton campus called landline and cell telephones Oct 24-30, 2019. The poll’s margin of error is +/- 4.7 percentage points.

John Froonjian, interim executive director of the Hughes Center, said the results suggest a possible low-turnout election with state Assembly at the top of the ballot. Polling Institute interviewers questioned 614 registered voters, but only 439 were deemed likely to vote based on screening questions.

“Voters younger than 30 in particular indicated they are not likely to cast ballots,” Froonjian said.

The Assembly candidates are relatively unknown despite all four holding public positions. Mazzeo, a local business owner, is best known, with 40 percent saying they are not familiar with him. The unfamiliarity percentages for Armato, Risley and Guenther all range in the mid-50s.

The state legislative poll did not ask about the Atlantic County executive race because geographic boundaries for the county and 2nd Legislative District are different.

“A low-turnout election would typically favor incumbents who are generally better known and better funded,” Froonjian said. “But the 2nd District is always competitive. Partisan party control of these Assembly seats has flipped between the major parties multiple times for several decades.”

Property taxes is the top issue in the election for 23 percent, and other taxes are identified by another 19 percent. Health care is third at 7 percent followed by the environment or climate change at 3 percent.

Forty-three percent are very or somewhat satisfied with state efforts to create jobs in the 2nd District, while 47 percent are somewhat or very dissatisfied. Ten percent are unsure or neutral.

Many voters appear to not have paid close attention to some of the 2nd District issues that have been in the news. Thirty-five percent support the continued state takeover of Atlantic City government with 26 percent opposed, although a majority in Atlantic City opposed the state’s presence. Thirty-two percent said they are unsure or don’t know enough about the issue to have an opinion.

A takeover of Atlantic City International Airport by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was supported by 37 percent and opposed by 24 percent, with 36 percent not familiar with the issue.

“Only 15 percent of respondents are following the election news very closely, and 40 percent are not following the race – another indication this could be a low-interest election,” Froonjian said.

President Donald Trump had higher job approval ratings than Gov. Phil Murphy, but neither one is popular. Trump received excellent or good ratings from 38 percent, while Murphy got 31 percent positive ratings. A slim majority of 51 percent in the district support they impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives, and 44 percent oppose it.

Voters were split whether their feelings about Trump will influence their vote in the legislative election, with 49 percent saying it will and 51 percent saying their feelings will not influence them.

For complete poll results click here.


The poll of adult residents of New Jersey’s 2nd Legislative District was conducted by the Stockton Polling Institute of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University. The telephone survey was conducted Oct. 24-30, 2019. Live interviewers who are mostly Stockton University students called cell phones and landlines from the Stockton University campus. Overall, 66 percent of interviews were conducted on cell phones and 34 percent on landline phones. A total of 614 registered voters were interviewed; 439 who were screened as likely voters or registered and already having voted by mail were included in the results. Likely voter screening was based on self-reported likelihood to vote on a scale of 1 to 10 or having already voted, knowledge of poll locations and those of age having voted in the 2017 gubernatorial and legislative election.

Both cell and landline phone sample randomly selected from voter lists was provided by Aristotle. Data were weighted based on U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey data for New Jersey’s 2nd Legislative District on variables of age, ethnicity, education level, race and region. The poll's margin of error is +/- 4.74 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level for statewide results. MOE is higher for subsets.

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 the late 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.

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