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'Trump-mentum' Energizes NJ Republicans, Rutgers Poll Finds

Trump Photo Credit: COURTESY: Donald Trump For President

“Trump-mentum” is at an all-time high with Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters in New Jersey -- but "the Donald" 's overall rating is down around Gov. Christie's, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll results released Tuesday.

On the Democratic side, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton easily beats Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for the presidential nomination, 55 percent to 32 percent, among those polled. Still, Sanders has an edge in favorability.

“New Jersey voters look like the rest of the country when it comes to the 2016 race,” said Ashley Koning, assistant director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University.

“Trump and Clinton hold strong leads and garner solid majorities among their respective party bases, despite their higher negative than positive ratings statewide," Koning said. "Yet neither candidate does well with independents, the driving force behind dissatisfaction with the current field – a strong indication of how polarizing the 2016 race already has become.”

Thirty-eight percent of Republican and GOP-leaning voters said they would choose Trump as their presidential nominee if they had to cast their primary ballots today, the poll found.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who would receive only 11 percent of the vote, is a distant second. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is neck-and-neck with Rubio, coming in third at 10 percent.

"Voters interviewed for the poll leading up to the New Hampshire primary were just as likely to choose Trump as those interviewed afterward, unlike the post-primary fluctuations in support seen for other GOP candidates based on their performance in the Granite State," Steve Manas of Rutgers said Tuesday.

Among all New Jersey voters, Trump isn't overwhelmingly popular, however: 31 percent have a favorable impression of him, while 57 percent have an unfavorable one – almost the same as Christie’s numbers in the Garden State, according to the poll

Voters are slightly less favorable toward Rubio and Cruz, at 27 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

Still, "negativity toward these candidates is not as strong as it is toward Trump," Manas said.

Trump’s ratings specifically among Republican voters are solid, far surpassing his competition’s.

Fifty-eight percent of Republicans are favorable toward Trump (30 percent are unfavorable), compared to 40 percent who say the same about Rubio (27 percent unfavorable), and 31 percent who say the same about Cruz (38 percent unfavorable).

Meanwhile, 46 percent of Democratic voters have a favorable impression of Sanders, while 29 percent have an unfavorable one and another 25 percent have no opinion or are not familiar with him.

Clinton, on the other hand, receives higher negative than positive ratings – 42 percent favorable versus 47 percent unfavorable, with 11 percent uncertain.

This is a marked difference from Clinton’s ratings a year ago, which were 59 percent favorable to 31 percent unfavorable.

Clinton, however, excels with her own party base. Over three-quarters of Democrats are favorable toward her, versus two-thirds who feel the same about Sanders.

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