Registered voters in New Jersey favor incumbent U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) in his bid for re-election by 21 percentage points over his Republican challenger. Fifty-three percent say they favor Menendez while 32 percent say they would vote for Bob Hugin, a former pharmaceutical executive. And that’s even though Menendez also registers weak approval ratings, with only 37 percent of voters approving of the job he’s doing, 38 percent disapproving, and 25 percent having no opinion. The senator’s limp job-approval rating can be attributed in part to fallout from his recent corruption trial. The numbers are from the latest Monmouth University Poll.
The picture is far more lopsided when the poll gets into preference by party affiliation. Ninety-two percent of Democrats back Menendez and 84 percent of Republicans opt for Hugin. Among Independents, the split is 41 percent for Menendez and 33 percent for Hugin.
“Let’s be honest. It’s very unlikely that these results are predictive of the final margin on Election Day. New Jersey voters do not tune in to midterm elections until sometime in October and fewer than half of the voters we polled now will actually show up to vote then. However, the current state of the race does speak to what is perhaps the incumbent’s biggest strength: being a Democrat in a blue state in a year that is looking very good for Democrats,” Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said.