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Voter Fatigue Could Hurt Turnout in November Election

9-23-13

By Senior Correspondent Desirée Taylor
NJ Today

The minimum wage ballot question may have bipartisan public support, but Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, doesn’t think the issue will impact voter turnout.

“The other dirty secret we know about ballot measures is they rarely bring out voters. Voters vote for ballot measures because they’re already in the ballot box,” Murray said.

Murray also believes there won’t be a significant increase of new voters at the polls, which can help or hurt candidates. However Charles Hall Jr., chair of Working Families United for New Jersey, says his team has registered 25,000 new voters this year. And he hopes they will come out in full force to support the ballot question, despite an outcry from opponents who consider a wage increase a job killer.

“These are low wage workers who will immediately spend this money. We estimate that to be $276 million that they will get, put back into the economy, which will help businesses in the state — small and big. In this particular case, probably a lot of smaller businesses,” Hall said.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono has tried to use this issue and others that impact the middle class to galvanize support for her struggling campaign, but she still trails frontrunner Chris Christie by about 20 points.

“So far she’s said nothing that’s interested independents because independents have been rock solid behind Chris Christie,” Murray said.

And with a host of Democrats coming out to support Christie, Murray says he seems unstoppable.

“This year we actually have a Democrat on the ballot running for governor and not one of these Democratic legislators are mentioning her in their ads. They’re mentioning Chris Christie, the Republican governor,” Murray said.

There are a handful of competitive legislative races as Republicans look to gain seats in the Statehouse, however Murray believes there will be few if any upsets. But he does think voter fatigue could have an impact because voters will be asked to go to the polls in October for the U.S. Senate special election and then again in November.

“There’s a real fear that some voters will show up at one election and decide not to go to the other because they already did their duty this fall by voting in one election. So we’ll see that play out as we go forward,” Murray said.

Murray says campaigns will try to beat voter fatigue by pushing voters to cast their ballots by mail.