NEW BRUNSWICK – Incumbent U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez holds a 12-point lead over his virtually unknown Republican challenger, according to a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Menendez leads state Sen. Joe Kyrillos 47 percent to 35 percent among likely voters in the race for the U.S. Senate, with 10 percent are unsure and 8 percent who say they would prefer “someone else.”
Two months before Election Day, three-quarters say they have no opinion or don’t know Kyrillos, while 15 percent have a favorable impression and 10 percent are unfavorable. About a quarter of Republicans admit they do not know the candidate and almost half (46 percent) have no opinion.
Menendez, on the other hand, is viewed favorably by 40 percent of voters and unfavorably by 28 percent. Twenty-six percent are unsure and 7 percent don’t know who he is.
“Senator Kyrillos is fighting an uphill battle for attention against a well-funded incumbent in a blue state,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “His first TV ads started right after we polled, so the lack of awareness is not overly surprising. Still, he has a long way to go to get voters’ attention.”
New Jersey voters will also weigh in on a $750 million education bond to be used for new academic buildings and technological upgrades at colleges and universities. Likely voters approve of the measure 56 percent to 27 opposed. The remainder is unsure.
Results are from a poll of 916 registered voters conducted statewide among both landline and cell phone households from Aug. 23–25, just prior to the party conventions. Within this sample, 688 respondents are identified as likely voters in the U.S. Senate election and are the subjects of this release. The likely voter sample has a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percentage points.