Poll: Menendez up on GOP field

A North Carolina pollster who yesterday released a presidential poll showing President Obama cleaning up in New Jersey, today released results showing U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez retaining his seat against a host of potential challengers.

The poll by Public Policy Polling shows some of Menendez’s margins are slim, particularly against his 2006 challenger, state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R-Westfield) whom the poll shows he would defeat 41 to 39 with 19 percent of those polled unsure.

The Democratic incumbent fared better against Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who has been mentioned as a potential challenger to Menendez in 2012.  The poll shows Menendez taking that race by 15 points, 45 to 30 with a large number of respondents – 72 percent – having no opinion of the Lt. Gov.

Menendez also topped Fox Business Network’s Lou Dobbs 47 to 35.

But though he did well against those potential challengers, the senator’s approval ratings need a heavy boost over the next two years.  According to the poll, 37 percent approve of the job Menendez is doing, while 38 percent disapprove and 24 percent are unsure.

Dobbs would also need a large dose of good will in the coming year if he is to mount a serious challenge.  His favorable to unfavorable split came in at 25 to 30.  Kean’s spread comes in at a healthier 31 to 18 favorable to unfavorable, though 51 percent of voters say they have no opinion of him.

“It takes a special level of unpopularity for an incumbent Democrat to lose in New Jersey and I’m not sure Menendez is there,” said company founder Dean Debnam in a blog entry detailing the poll. “Menendez will also be helped by the fact that Barack Obama is pretty strong in the state…it is difficult to imagine the President cruising to reelection by double digits and Menendez simultaneously losing.”

Not mentioned in the poll is pharmaceutical executive John Crowley, whose fight to find a cure for Pompe disease was chronicled in the movie Extraordinary Measures.  Though he has not declared, Crowley is on the short list of potential challengers to Menendez .

From the poll:

“PPP surveyed 520 New Jersey voters from January 6th to 9th. The survey’s margin of error is +/-4.3%. Other factors, such as refusal to be interviewed and weighting, may introduce additional error that is more difficult to quantify.”

PPP is known in political circles as a liberal leaning enterprise with a client list made up exclusively of Democrats. 

Read the full results here.

"This meeting is entirely off the record. Until somebody leaks it."
—Michael Kempner, addressing a roomful of Democratic powerbrokers organizng for Hillary Clinton