Newark mayoral race: Poll puts Ras Baraka way ahead

By David Giambusso/The Star-Ledger
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on April 02, 2014

NEWARK — South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka has a sizable lead over his opponent, Shavar Jeffries, with only six weeks left in the mayor's race, according to a new poll conducted by Benenson Strategy Group, the same firm that has polled for President Obama and U.S. Senator Cory Booker.

The poll, commissioned by the Working Families Organization, which has endorsed Baraka, shows Baraka with a 51 percent to 28 percent lead over Jeffries. Pollsters surveyed 450 likely voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 percentage points.

The numbers are tough news for the Jeffries campaign, on a day when one of their campaign workers has been tied to the alleged arson of Baraka's campaign bus.

The poll gives Baraka a 67 percent approval rating, roughly the same as Booker's current rating (65 percent) in a city where the two men have been political adversaries for years. The poll also shows that 40 percent of likely voters are still unfamiliar with Jeffries.

Voters are fans of Baraka's position on Newark Public Schools and are not as sure about Jeffries positions on education, the poll indicates. Newarkers said their big concerns are job creation, economic development, and "protecting Newark's public schools," the poll says.

Crime, which consistently polls as a top issue among Newark residents, was not mentioned in the information released yesterday.

"Baraka’s popularity and subsequent lead in the horse race are driven by voters’ understanding that his values and policies align with their own, and that as mayor he would fight for improvements that uplift the entire city," according to the memo issued Tuesday.

"We aren’t going to comment on a poll that is paid for by a group that supports our opposition except to say that as more voters learn about Baraka’s failed record as South Ward councilman they will embrace Shavar’s vision for safer streets and stronger schools," said Lupe Todd, a spokeswoman for Jeffries.

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