Poll Shows Booker Ahead By 10% in Bid for Full Term in U.S. Senate
But closeness of race is puzzling, since 77% of those polled said they knew very little about GOP challenger Jeff Bell
New Jersey's newest U.S. senator, Democrat Cory Booker, leads Republican challenger Jeff Bell in the latest Quinnipiac University Poll, but the 10-point margin is surprisingly small, given that more than three-quarters of New Jersey voters know so little about Bell that they had no opinion of him.
The poll also found that more people approve than disapprove of the jobs being done by both Booker and fellow Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, who has been in office since 2006.
Less than 50 percent, however, said they view the two senators favorably.
Still, New Jerseyans approve of their U.S. senators more than they approve of President Barack Obama.
In the polling on the Senate race, Booker leads Bell 47 percent to 37 percent. But while 47 percent of New Jersey voters have a favorable opinion of Booker, Bell's favorable rating was just 16 percent, with 77 percent of those surveyed saying they don't know enough about Bell to have an opinion.
"Hardly anyone knows Jeff Bell. Still, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker's lead is barely in double digits," Maurice Carroll, the poll's assistant director, said. "Two-thirds of Republicans don't know their Senate candidate, but more than 80 percent back him."
A slightly larger percentage -- 48 percent -- say Booker, seated after a special election last October, should get a full six-year term.
Booker's approval rating was slightly higher than Menendez's 45 percent -- and both fared better than Obama, who had an unfavorable rating of 52 percent and a favorable rating of just 44 percent.
Quinnipiac conducted the poll between July 31 and August 4, and released the poll results on Wednesday.
See more details of the results below.