Republican challenger Bob Hugin has cut significantly into incumbent Democratic Senator Bob Menendez’s (D-NJ) lead in this year’s statewide general election contest, according to today’s Quinnipiac University Poll.
Menendez leads Hugin 43-37%, according to the poll.
That’s compared to a 49-32% lead Menendez had in a March 13th Quinnipiac survey.
From 17 points to six points.
“This poll confirms why Bob Menendez started his dishonest negative attacks before Labor Day — he’s running scared and he should be. New Jersey voters are sick and tired of Menendez and his numbers are tanking, while momentum for business leader and Marine Corps Veteran Bob Hugin continues to grow,” said Hugin Communications Director Megan Piwowar. “Nearly half of voters view Menendez unfavorably and say they believe he was ‘involved in serious wrongdoing.’ The more voters learn that Menendez abused the power of his office, was indicted for bribery and found guilty of breaking federal law by the bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee, the more they dislike him. Bob Hugin will be an independent voice in the Senate who is unafraid to take on Washington dysfunction, while working with people in both parties to always put New Jersey first.”
According to the poll, Hugin beats Menendez among white voters 47-38%.
Menendez leads 51-18% among non-white voters.
Independents back Hugin, according to the poll, 37-33%.
The poll shows Menendez – who last year survived a federal corruption trial – with a 47% unfavorable rating, compared to 29% who view him favorably. That’s a change from March 13th, when 35% viewed him unfavorably and 37% saw him favorably, according to the poll.
“As Sen. Robert Menendez sees his once dominant lead whittled down to single digits, New Jersey voters are sending a clear message. They are troubled by the ethics cloud hanging over him,” said Mary Snow, polling analyst for the Quinnipiac Poll.
“While voters prefer Sen. Menendez over Republican Bob Hugin in deep blue New Jersey, they give the incumbent negative approval and favorability ratings,” Snow added.
On the hard side of the contest, Hugin – who says that he has committed $15 million to the campaign – winged away at Menendez as far back as April.
In July, the challenger released a tough contrast ad.
And this month, made a TV ad case that the state is “getting screwed.”
“After a $10M barrage of negative attack ads, it goes to show you just how resilient and strong the support is for Bob Menendez,” said Campaign Spokesman Steve Sandberg. “We are now starting our own multi-million dollar ad campaign where Bob Menendez talks directly to New Jersey voters and we tell the facts about greedy drug company CEO Bob Hugin’s record of ripping off cancer patients so he could make millions.
“Once more and more New Jerseyans get to know the real Bob Hugin—the guy who got rich ripping off cancer patients and defrauding Medicare, the guy who’s spent millions supporting Donald Trump and right-wing candidates and causes, and is now trying to buy a Senate seat—voters will reject him,” Sandberg added. “The people of New Jersey understand that the stakes in this election couldn’t be higher, and they want a proven fighter in Bob Menendez who’s not afraid to stand up for New Jersey and stand up to Donald Trump.”
A Democratic source said Menendez’s internals show an even tighter contest at this juncture.
In the aftermath of the poll’s release today, Democratic chairs in Democratic voter-rich Essex and Hudson counties rushed to the senator’s aid here and here, while the chair of the state GOP asserted the sustained toxicity of an ethical cloud hanging over Menendez.
From August 15 – 20, Quinnipiac University surveyed 908 New Jersey voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.6 percentage points, including the design effect. Live interviewers call landlines and cell phones.
The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts nationwide public opinion surveys, and statewide polls in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Iowa, Colorado and Texas as a public service and for research.