Running for re-election this year on a ticket headed by President Barack Obama, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) would defeat two possible Republican challengers in hypothetical matchups, according to this morning’s Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll.
The incumbent Democrat beats state Sen. Joe Kyrillos by 43%-31%, and defeats Tea Partier Anna Little by the exact same margin, 43%-31%, according to FDU.
“Without Tom Kean, Jr., the Republicans right now have only the equivalent of generic candidates—not well enough known statewide to have a brand name,” said Poll Director and Political Scientist Peter Woolley. “That’s the difficulty of having so few statewide elected offices. Challengers typically must struggle for name recognition.”
Little is already running for the U.S. Senate in the GOP Primary. Kyrillos – a close confidant of Gov. Chris Christie’s – is expected to formally enter the race in the coming days.
New Jersey voters split on President Obama’s job evaluation: 46% approving to 45% disapproving. Obama’s one-point advantage is an improvement from two previous three-point deficits (44%-47%). However, the president has a deficit of eight percentage points among men (40-48) compared to an advantage of nine points among women (51-42).
Twenty-eight percent of voters say the country is headed in the right direction, an uptick of six points; and there is a corresponding six-point drop, to 61%, in those saying the country is on the “wrong track.” The shift is accounted for almost entirely by Democrats. Democrats, by a margin of 47%-40%, say the country is headed in the right direction, a significant change from the previous measure when many more Democrats (49%) said the country was on the wrong track than said it was headed in the right direction (36%).
Woolley said Republicans continue to agree overwhelmingly (87%-6%) that the country is on the wrong track.
“Democrats are eager to note any improvements in the economy,” said the poll director. He added, “Given the intense criticism by Republicans of their own candidates for the presidency, Democrats are feeling Obama’s chances of re-election have improved.”
The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll sampled 800 registered voters statewide using both landlines and cell phones from Jan. 2 through Jan. 8. The poll has a margin of error of +/-3.5 percentage points.