With Election Day just three weeks away, Democrats and Republicans are duking it out for control of the House of Representatives. One of the most competitive races in the country is taking place right in our backyard. Or maybe not.
It’s been billed as a horse race, but a new Monmouth University poll shows Republican Tom MacArthur is leading Democrat Aimee Belgard by 10 points in New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District.
Belgard, a Burlington County freeholder, and MacArthur, a former North Jersey mayor who moved to Ocean County to run, are vying for the seat held by retiring Republican Congressman Jon Runyan.
Previous surveys have shown the two candidates in a dead heat, fighting over little more than 10 percent of likely undecided voters.
“Certainly they’ve been running their campaigns as if it’s a close race,” said Monmouth University poll director Patrick Murray. “I just think the underlying fundamentals of this race always benefitted the Republican.”
Belgard has been hurt by the attack ads put out by the national Democratic organization backing her campaign, Murray said. Two of them were pulled off the air for inaccuracies — and that’s made an uphill climb in this Republican-leaning district even tougher for the Democrat.
“When you start throwing too much mud, it’s going to splash back on you and that seems to be the case right here,” Murray said, noting her opponent has also gotten down in the mud with attack ads and a website purporting to tell the “true story” about Aimee Belgard.
Belgard campaign manager Hannah Ledford did not respond directly to a question about the Monmouth poll. Instead, she pointed to prior polls that showed a tighter race against MacArthur.
“Voters are rejecting his extreme agenda, and that’s why we’re in such a good position going into the final stretch of this campaign,” said Ledford in an emailed statement.
MacArthur spokesman Chris Russell said the campaign is pleased by the poll results, but is “not taking anything for granted” in the final weeks.