Most New Jerseyans don’t know much about U.S. Representative Andy Kim or New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy, who both plan to primary U.S. Senator Bob Menendez as he faces federal charges and calls to resign from office.
Over two-thirds of New Jerseyans are either unsure or unaware about them at the moment, according to the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll.
About four in 10 voters don’t know Kim (41 percent) or Murphy (38 percent); one in four (27 percent) are unsure about Kim, while one-third (33 percent) feel the same about Murphy. The candidates fare similarly among those voters who take sides: 19 percent have a favorable opinion toward Kim and 12 percent have an unfavorable one, while 14 percent have a favorable opinion toward Murphy and 15 percent have an unfavorable one.
“Both Kim and Murphy are well known in Garden State politics, but each of them still needs to build some name recognition with the average voter,” said Ashley Koning, an assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling (ECPIP) at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. “While they may be each other’s competition in the coming months, neither one of them needs to worry about vying for voters with the third candidate still in this race for Sen. Bob Menendez’s seat – Menendez himself.”
Menendez’s ratings, meanwhile, have taken a nosedive— six percent of New Jersey voters have a favorable impression of Menendez compared to 69 percent who have an unfavorable one. Fifteen percent have no opinion and 10 percent say they don’t know Menendez. Negativity toward the senator spans across all demographics, including all partisans.
New Jersey’s senior senator fares no better in his job approval ratings: 11 percent approve of the job Menendez is doing as senator, while 64 percent disapprove, and 25 percent are unsure.
“Menendez’s ratings have never been exceptionally positive throughout his tenure as a U.S. senator in New Jersey, but they have now unsurprisingly hit rock bottom,” said Jessica Roman, a research associate at ECPIP. “He has likely scored the lowest favorability and approval ratings of any major New Jersey political figure we have ever polled in our five-decade history.”
In contrast, junior U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey continues to fare moderately well with his constituents. Forty-five percent are favorable toward Booker, while 29 percent are unfavorable, 17 percent have no opinion, and 8 percent don’t know who he is. Similarly, 43 percent approve of the overall job Booker is doing, 29 percent disapprove, and 28 percent are unsure.
In terms of the presidency, New Jersey voters aren’t very impressed with their options, with considerable variation by partisanship. About half (51 percent) of New Jersey voters have an unfavorable view of President Joe Biden, who is seeking re-election, while 37 percent have a favorable view. Twelve percent have no opinion. Similarly, 55 percent disapprove of the job Biden is doing as president, while 39 percent approve and six percent are unsure.
On the Republican side, 61 percent of voters in the Garden State have an unfavorable view of former President Donald Trump, 27 percent have a favorable one, and 12 percent have no opinion.
Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey and a Republican presidential candidate, has rebounded a few points with his home constituency since leaving office in 2018. Nineteen percent of voters have a favorable opinion of him, 64 percent have an unfavorable one, 16 percent have no opinion, and 2 percent say they don’t know who he is.
Results are from a statewide poll of 974 adults contacted through the probability-based Rutgers-Eagleton/SSRS Garden State Panel from Nov. 3 to Nov. 5. The full sample has a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percentage points. The registered voter subsample contains 826 registered voters and has a margin of error of +/- 4.8 percentage points.