[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/22/art.govs.cnn.jpg caption="A new poll of New Jersey voters suggests independent candidate Chris Daggett, center, continues to make gains."](CNN) - A new poll of New Jersey voters suggests independent candidate Chris Daggett continues to make gains in that state's highly competitive gubernatorial race, primarily peeling support away from Republican challenger Chris Christie in campaign's final days.
Daggett, whom the Newark Star-Ledger surprisingly endorsed earlier this month, stands at 20 percent in the new survey conducted by Rutgers University, the highest level of support the former administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency has registered in any poll of the race to date.
Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine meanwhile holds a narrow lead over Christie, the state's former district attorney, 39 percent to 36 percent. But given the poll's 4 percentage point sampling error, the two are statistically tied.
"A rule of thumb among political junkies says that that the actual vote for a third-party candidate tends to be roughly half of what that candidate was getting in pre-election polls around Labor Day," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "But Daggett has been gaining ground since those Labor Day polls, so he may be one of the few independents who finishes strong and has a significant impact on the final results."
If nothing else, Daggett's growing support could mean the ultimate victor wins with less than 40 percent of the vote, a reflection of how unsatisfied New Jersey voters appear to be with all three candidates.
The Rutgers survey also shows both Christie and Corzine have net negative approval ratings and voters are deeply concerned with taxes, unemployment, and corruption in the state.
The poll of 583 likely voters was conducted October 15-20.