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February 15, 2013

U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg -- who is expected to officially announce his retirement today -- is 89, the oldest member of the Senate. He has represented New Jersey in Washington for 30 years, but according to a new Monmouth Institute poll, only 39 percent of registered voters realize he is older than 80. In fact, 17 percent of voters think he is not yet 70.

Whether this uncertainty is a testament to Lautenberg’s energy, likability, or simple voter ignorance is unknown, but he is popular with the public, according to the poll, which showed him with a 41 percent favorability rating (21 percent unfavorable). Favorability fell more or less along party lines, but women and older voters were more apt to respond positively.

When Democratic primary voters were asked who should replace Lautenberg, 38 percent said the party should rally around Newark Mayor Cory Booker, while 31 percent said they favored other potential candidates in the race.

On the other hand, one candidate on the Republican side seems to have a rough road ahead. When asked if they were likely to vote for Geraldo Rivera, who has expressed interest in running for the GOP ticket, 51 percent of registered voters said they were not at all likely to vote for him. He does have a following, however: 9 percent said they were very likely to vote for him; 17 percent, somewhat likely.

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