Edit, 10/16/13 - Boy, did I miss this one. The worst case scenario turned out to be closest to the outcome.
Since my previous projection, new polls have been released for the Booker-Lonegan NJ Senate special election. These new polls have resulted in a slight downgrade of Bookerís margin. Still, he is the prohibitive favorite and, barring some currently unfathomable disaster, will be the new junior senator from New Jersey.
I have constructed three basic scenarios in an attempt to illustrate the fluidity of this race. The first is based on the adjusted average of public polling and on previous election returns in New Jersey. This scenario is the basis for the mainline projection of Booker 61.5%-Lonegan 36.9%.
The second is a best case scenario, in which Booker performs at the absolute maximum of his polling. This is the least likely of all three scenarios, with Booker winning by a gargantuan 71.3%-27.1% margin and carrying every county in the state.
The third is a worst case scenario, in which Lonegan performs at the absolute maximum of his polling. Here, Booker defeats Lonegan 55.3%-43.0% and wins 13 counties. Some recent polls have made this scenario seem increasingly possible.
The good news, of course, is that Booker wins convincingly in all three scenarios.
Blue - Booker, Red - Lonegan, Gray - Tossup
Booker wins 13 of New Jerseyís counties (Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, Passaic, Salem, and Union) in all three scenarios. These counties form the core of Bookerís support; even in his worst case scenario, he carries them by a collective margin of 25.5 points.
On the other end of the spectrum, Lonegan carries five counties (Hunterdon, Morris, Ocean, Sussex, and Warren) in all but his worst scenario. In his best scenario, he carries them by 20.8 point margin.
This leaves three counties (Cape May, Monmouth, and Somerset) where the outcome is somewhat less certain. Only Somerset appears relatively secure for Booker; he is projected to win here by 11.4. The current projection has Booker winning these three counties, as a whole, by only 3.6 points, with both Cape May and Monmouth being won by less than a single percentage point. Lonegan victories in these counties, especially Somerset, would point to a much smaller margin of victory for Booker than what the forecast suggests.
In short, the strength of Bookerís showing in Somerset will likely serve as a good indicator of his strength statewide.
This is likely my last projection for the race. If Iím wrong now, Iím wrong for good.