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Poll: Nearly half NJ voters unsure about Menendez

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Sen. Bob Menendez, D-NJ.
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-NJ. - ()

According to a Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll released May 25, 46 percent of New Jersey voters have said they’re on the fence about whether they’d vote for incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez in the upcoming U.S. Senate race or his Republican challenger, former Celgene CEO, Bob Hugin.

The poll found only 28 percent of respondents said they’d vote for Menendez, a slight lead over the 24 percent who said they would vote for Hugin.

“Sen. Menendez’s recent federal trial and bipartisan censure by his Senate colleagues are clearly taking their toll. It’s not uncommon for incumbents to cruise to reelection, but these numbers suggest he’s going to have to woo voters like he hasn’t had to in a long time,” said Krista Jenkins, an FDU political science professor and director of the polling center.  

With over $46 million to his name, according to federal financial disclosure reports, Hugin is not without his own share of controversy.

Under his watch Summit-based pharmaceutical company Celgene spent over $2 million in Hugin’s last year at the helm lobbying against Congressional legislation that would lower drug prices for the benefit of consumers, and potentially cost the pharmaceutical company millions in profit.

Within Menendez's own party, the poll found, things weren’t looking much better.

Forty two percent of Democrats said they were undecided about whether to back Menendez, while 53 percent said they would support him in the voting booth come November.

In Hugin’s party, 60 percent of Republicans polled said they’ll support him on the ballot.

“Both men will pick up considerably more support as the race progresses as the undecideds begin to break for the candidate who shares their partisan leanings. With New Jersey a more Democratic state, Menendez is likely to pick up more of this group than Hugin,” Jenkins said.

Independents are the most truly undecided, with 68 percent saying they were unsure who they’d pick in the election.

Comparatively things are looking up for Menendez’s Senate counterpart, Democrat Cory Booker, with a 55 percent approval rating compared to 27 percent of voters who disliked the former Newark mayor. That’s virtually unchanged from a 2017 FDU poll, Jenkins said.

The poll, conducted between May 16 and May 21, interviewed 856 New Jersey voters over the phone.

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Daniel J. Munoz

Daniel J. Munoz

Daniel Munoz covers politics and state government for NJBIZ. You can contact him at dmunoz@njbiz.com.

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