Seven months before the election, a Monmouth University poll shows incumbent Democrat Bob Menendez with a big advantage over Republican Bob Hugin in the race for a U.S Senate seat from New Jersey.
Poll director Patrick Murray says 53 percent of registered voters say they’d vote for Menendez and 32 percent would choose Hugin.
“We’re finding that it’s a good time to be a Democrat in a blue state in a Democratic year even if you have baggage of having gone through a corruption trial. This really is all about party registration in New Jersey. I mean there’s a 15 to 17 point advantage for Democrats here.”
Murray says 15 percent of registered voters who prefer Menendez say they’re unaware of his legal troubles that ended in a mistrial.
“There’s a possibility they could swing over to Hugin and this race could get closer, but there’s an even bigger possibility that they could probably just not vote. When we get to November fewer than half of the registered voters we’re polling right now will actually show up to vote.”
Murray says Hugin is a blank slate for most voters.
“82 percent don’t have an opinion of him one way or another. Just 20 percent are aware that he’s a former pharmaceutical executive. And while most say this is not going to impact their vote, we just haven’t seen the campaign roll out yet and what Menendez is going to try to make of this issue.”
Murray says Hugin might not have the campaign funds to overcome being a relative unknown.
“He’s got $8 million most of which he’s loaned himself so far. In New Jersey’s media market that doesn’t go very far. He’s not going to be able to introduce himself to voters in any sizeable way unless he is willing to increase the amount he’s lending himself by tenfold.”