updated 6/23/2004 2:14:52 PM ET 2004-06-23T18:14:52

Democratic challenger John Kerry has a slight lead over President Bush in New Jersey, a state Al Gore won by 16 percentage points in 2000, according to a poll released Wednesday.

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Kerry had 46 percent and Bush 40 percent, while independent candidate Ralph Nader had 7 percent in the Quinnipiac University poll. In May, Kerry was at 46 percent and Bush at 43 percent.

The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points for the survey of 1,167 voters, taken June 15-20.

Kerry’s favorability ratings among those polled was still lukewarm, with 30 percent viewing him favorably and 28 percent viewing him unfavorably, said Clay Richards, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac Polling Institute. Thirteen percent said they did not know enough about Kerry to form an opinion about him.

When asked about Bush, 35 percent viewed him favorably while 40 percent viewed him unfavorably. Twenty-three percent offered no opinion.

Of those polled, 54 percent said they believed the war in Iraq was the wrong thing to do.

Kerry is not doing as well as he should be in a Democratic state like New Jersey, Richards said.

“There’s a combination of things hurting Kerry,” Richards said. “His own image problems, Nader and terrorism. There’s still a lot of people who feel more protected under Bush than they would under Kerry.”

Fifty percent of voters said Bush would do a better job on terrorism issues, compared to Kerry’s 39 percent. But voters thought Kerry would do a better job than Bush on the economy, by 52 percent to 40 percent.

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