Democratic senator Cory Booker of New Jersey won a special election last November with 55 percent of the vote, but the former mayor of Newark is now under 50 percent against a little-known Republican challenger, according to a new poll. Rasmussen Reports finds in a survey of likely voters in New Jersey that Booker has 48 percent support over Republican nominee Jeff Bell, who has 35 percent support. Thirteen percent remain undecided.

Bell, a Republican activist who defeated sitting senator Clifford Case in a GOP primary in 1978 only to lose the general election to Democrat Bill Bradley, won this year's primary to face Booker. He remains relatively unknown in the heavily Democratic state, with 39 percent telling Rasmussen they've never heard of him.

According to the poll, 25 percent say they have a strongly favorable view of Booker, while 16 percent say they have a strongly unfavorable view. While both Booker and Bell do very well with voters of their own parties, according to Rasmussen, "the two are nearly tied among voters not affiliated with either major political party."

The boss wrote about Bell's dark horse candidacy right after the Garden State's primary:

Cory Booker starts out way ahead in the general election campaign. But Bell will run as an intelligent and aggressive full-spectrum conservative. He'll emphasize his pro-growth, pro-Main Street agenda, with a focus on monetary policy, in particular a return to the gold standard. This message will bewilder the elites. But it helped Bell win the primary against better known opponents.

If Bell can get enough funding, his populist and thoughtful conservatism could pose a real challenge to Booker's elitist and shallow liberalism. In which case, Bell could—amazingly—win the same Senate seat he lost to Bill Bradley 36 years ago.

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