Newark mayor's race: Newark First Polling Memo: Baraka 38%, Jeffries 34%

By Mark Bonamo | May 5th, 2014

NEWARK - A polling memo released Monday morning by an independent expenditure group supporting Newark mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries shows the race to be tightening significantly with only eight days until the May 13 municipal election.

Many political observers still see Jeffries' rival, South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka, as having the better-organized ground game. But the air war waged on cable and broadcast television in favor of Jeffries, a campaign largely fueled by independent expenditure funds, could be making an impact in the race's final days. 

The new poll, dated May 5, shows Baraka leading Jeffries by 38 percent to 34 percent margin. 

The last poll released by Newark First, dated April 28, showed Baraka leading Jeffries by a 42 percent to 30 percent margin. The polling memo also points out that Jeffries has surged considerably since a January poll, which showed Jeffries behind Baraka by a 52 percent to 18 percent margin, according to Newark First. 

The new poll also shows Jeffries consolidating leads among seniors, Latinos and undecided voters and in the North, Central and East Wards. 

"Voters are more likely to have seen, read, or hear about Jeffries than Councilman Baraka recently," the Newark First polling memo states, with Jeffries now viewed favorably by 52% of likely voters, according to the memo. 

Global Strategy Group conducted the poll for Newark First. 

GSG founding partner Jeffrey Plaut said Jeffries has made large gains each week and continues to consolidate his support across Newark.

 “Shavar Jeffries has made huge strides in growing his support and closed the electoral gap with his opponent to a draw. The race is now within the margin of error as Jeffries continues to consolidate support across the city. And momentum in the race is clearly on Jeffries’ side," said Plaut. "In the final days of the campaign, Jeffries has the potential to keep building momentum throughout the city and become Newark's next mayor." 

Sources inside the Jeffries' camp say that despite some internal frustration with the way the campaign has been conducted so far, they do see gains being made against Baraka as the Newark mayoral race enters its final days. 

Recent media buy reports obtained by show Baraka and his allies being significantly outspent. The combination of campaign and independent expenditure funds spent by the candidates and their allies shows a more than 4 to 1 margin in favor of Jeffries since the beginning of the year, with Baraka being outspent by a close to 10 to 1 margin in just the past week. 

But Rob Duffey, spokesman for the New Jersey Working Families Alliance, the New Jersey affiliate of the Working Families Organization, the pro-Baraka independent expenditure group, reached different conclusions about the newly-released poll. 

"The same hedge fund managers and CEOs backing [Governor Chris] Christie and his hand-picked [Newark school] superintendent [Cami Anderson] are trying to buy this election for Shavar Jeffries because they know he'll go along with their plan to shut down Newark's public schools and shut out the community," Duffey said in a written statement. "From Connecticut to Texas to Wall Street, the private money is flowing into Newark, but with Jeffries still behind it's clear that neither Newark nor its schools are for sale."

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