Incumbent U.S. Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey won his primary election contest Tuesday but his little-known opponent Lisa McCormick got a surprising 39 percent of the vote from Democrats.
Political analysts say despite his poor performance, Menendez is likely to win reelection in November.
Seton Hall public affairs professor Matthew Hale believes much of the vote for Menendez’ challenger was a protest because of his recent corruption trial that resulted in a hung jury and the charges were dropped.
“A number of Democrats, and I think in particularly progressive Democrats those on the left wing of the party, saw this as an opportunity to sort of send a message that this was a free vote. The could vote against Menendez and then they’ll probably come back to the fold in the general election.”
Montclair State University political science professor Brigid Harrison expects Menendez will defeat the Republican candidate in November.
“Once Senator Menendez starts spending his money and targeting Bob Hugin and airing some of differences he has including Mr. Hugin’s support of President Trump and his background in the pharmaceutical industry, Senator Menendez will probably be beat up but will still be the sitting Senator.”
About half of the registered voters in New Jersey are unaffiliated with a political party.
Monmouth University Polling Institute director Patrick Murray says their views about Donald Trump are likely to influence who they’ll support in the General Election.
“Many of those people who are truly unaffiliated probably won’t show up to vote anyway in November. It’s those unaffiliated voters who are Democrat at heart that Bob Menendez is going to try to get out. And I think in the end how they feel about President Trump is going to be much more important to them than how they feel about Bob Menendez.”