I am not a superstitious man. But that doesn’t mean I go around saying things like ‘I’ve never been in a serious car accident,’ ‘I don’t have cancer,’ and ‘I will always be employed.’ ( Well, I guess I did just say those things but in print and not out loud. )
Which brings me to the curious thing Christie keeps saying about how Daggett is not going to win. The Republican has said more than once that in the end, it will be him or Corzine. I’m inclined to agree with Christie, but I’m not sure I would say that if I were a candidate who has clearly underestimated his independent opponent.
But it’s not just Christie. No one took Daggett very seriously in this race until his property tax proposal and subsequent performance in the October 1 NJN debate.
So, the question going forward is will Daggett have the staying power to possibly win this thing. Third party candidates tend to peak before election day. In fact, Howard Dean ( who was not a third party candidate, but was considered an outsider ) peaked in 2003, several months before the first presidential primary. But when it came time to actually win states it was all Kerry, who proceeded to windsurf his way into failure during the general election.
But let’s look at a more local example….and someone who actually is a third party candidate. According to John Weingart of the Eagleton Institute, the most successful third party candidate in NJ history was Murray Sabrin who received 5% of the vote in 1997. The difference of course is that Murray was running from the right, siphoning off votes from Christie Whitman who probably would have had a higher vote total, although she did manage to squeak past Jim McGreevey.
The difference with Daggett is that like Ross Perot in 1992, he is embracing the radical center. And that could play well among the disaffected.
Finally, the conventional wisdom has been that Daggett actually helps Corzine by drawing voters away from Christie. But some now say that with the endorsement of the Star-Ledger editorial board, we might see Daggett start to draw the kind of voters who read and listen to editorial boards. In other words, folks who tend to vote Democratic in NJ and would otherwise have voted for Corzine.