Obama ratings may doom Democrat in NJ’s 3rd Congressional District

Democrat Aimee Belgard

Democrat Aimee Belgard

The race to replace retiring South Jersey Republican Congressman Jon Runyan has drawn national attention — and millions of dollars from outside donors.



New campaign finance reports released Wednesday show the candidates for New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District are well-matched when it comes to raising and spending cash.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

According to the records, Democrat Aimee Belgard’s spent about $590,000 from July through September. She also benefited from more than $1 million the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent on ads attacking her opponent.

Republican Tom MacArthur, primarily financing his own campaign, spent $1.9 million in the last three months.

With less than three weeks to go, even the millionaire businessman is getting some help. Two conservative groups have pledged nearly $2 million to buy ads in favor of MacArthur.

But in this race, money may not matter as much as the national mood, according to Rutgers University political scientist Ross Baker.

“I think there’s an underlying current, and it has to do with national politics,” he said.

Ultimately, the election will be a referendum on President Barack Obama — and that doesn’t look good for Belgard.

“Clearly, Democrats everywhere are suffering from President Obama’s low job approval rating, and I suspect that Aimee Belgard is one of them,” said Baker.

This week, a new poll showed MacArthur ahead by 10 points in the right-leaning district, which stretches from Burlington to Ocean County.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal