Kim Campaign Research Shows MacArthur Vulnerable on Environment

Jul 18, 2018

Expect Andy Kim, the Democratic candidate for the House of Representatives in New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District, to pound Republican incumbent Tom MacArthur for his environmental record when their race heats up this autumn. Global Strategy Group, an American public relations and research firm that has worked with a long list of Democratic candidates since it was founded in 1995, conducted a poll of 400 likely 2018 voters in the 3rd District, which includes the western half of Stafford Township and all of Barnegat Township, and found that MacArthur is particularly vulnerable on environmental issues.

The GSG poll showed Kim and MacArthur tied after initial polling with each garnering 42 percent of the vote (16 percent of those polled were undecided). But once GSG presented those polled with a short series of messages critiquing the Republican for his environmental positions, as well as a critique on either the GOP health care or tax bills, Kim attracted 50 percent of the potential voters while MacArthur could hold on to only 34 percent.

The company’s polling showed 38 percent of voters hold an unfavorable opinion of MacArthur while 33 percent have a favorable opinion. It also found that 3rd District voters are disgusted with the GOP Congress, with only 28 finding the Republicans favorable while 53 found them unfavorable. President Trump did better with 3rd District voters, with 43 percent giving him a favorable rating, but 52 percent still found him unfavorable.

So, Global Strategy Group concluded, “MacArthur starts out in a weak position.”

Environmental groups and the federal Environmental Protection Agency scored high with 3rd District voters, with the former being viewed favorable by 60 percent while only 23 percent called them unfavorable; the latter won the favorable/unfavorable split by a 63 to 24 percent margin. Former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, who was still in office during the polling, was deeply underwater with 40 percent of the voters finding him unfavorable while a mere 15 percent were pleased with his performance.

When asked about Republican plans to reduce clean air and water regulations, 54 percent opposed those plans while 37 percent supported them. When the subject was the Republican plan to allow oil and gas companies to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, 67 percent of the polled voters objected while 30 percent applauded. As for allowing oil and gas companies to drill in national park lands, 70 percent of those polled opposed such an idea while 26 percent supported it. But the EPA received even more support than Alaskan wildlife and national parks. When asked if they supported a Republican plan to slash the EPA’s budget by 30 percent, 71 percent said they opposed it while only 25 percent said they supported it.

True, many of the statements made to voters by GSG were loaded. Consider this one as an example – “Tom MacArthur wants to gut commonsense protections like the Clean Air and Water Acts and allow big corporations to spew more toxic pollution into our air and water. Doctors say that will lead to more asthma, heart and lung disease and even cancer – especially among children and seniors.” No wonder 66 percent of independents, a critical voting bloc in the 3rd District, had doubts about MacArthur’s environmental record after hearing that statement.

Still, GSG’s research shows MacArthur is vulnerable on the environment, and when political advertising begins in earnest after Labor Day, you can expect some attack ads from the Kim campaign on environmental issues.

So far Kim’s attacks on his opponent have centered around the GOP healthcare and tax bills, both of which were helped through the House by MacArthur amendments. Now his campaign will add a third leg to the attack stool, the environment, and it could end up being the longest leg of all.

— Rick Mellerup

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