Senate race tightens

The New Jersey U.S. Senate campaign is developing into a horse race as Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez leads former pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin, his Republican challenger, by a slim 43 – 37 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released today.

This compares to a 49 – 32 percent Menendez lead in a March 13 survey by the independent Quinnipiac University Poll.

The while two percent say they would vote for someone else and 16 percent remain undecided, the survey reports figures that resemble results of a poll by Gravis Marketing, a non-partisan research firm, that conducted it for Libertarian Murray Sabrin.

Gravis found 40 percent for Menendez, 30 percent for Hugin, seven percent for Sabrin and 20 percent undecided.

There is a wide racial gap as Hugin leads 47 – 38 percent among white voters and Menendez leads 51 – 18 percent among non-white voters. Republicans back Hugin 85 – 6 percent while Democrats go to Menendez 74 – 10 percent. Independent voters are divided with 37 percent for Hugin and 33 percent for Menendez.

Menendez was involved in serious wrongdoing, New Jersey voters say 49 – 16 percent, including 38 – 25 percent among Democrats. Among all voters, 31 percent say they haven’t heard enough to decide if Menendez was involved in wrongdoing.

Voters give Menendez a negative 40 – 47 percent approval rating and a negative 29 – 47 percent favorability rating.

Hugin gets a slightly positive 24 – 20 percent favorability, but 54 percent of voters haven’t heard enough about him to form an opinion.

Ethics in government is the most important issue in deciding how they will vote for U.S. Senator, 25 percent of New Jersey voters say, as 21 percent list taxes; 19 percent cite health care, with 14 percent each for immigration and the economy.

“As Sen. Robert Menendez sees his once dominant lead whittled down to single digits, New Jersey voters are sending a clear message. They are troubled by the ethics cloud hanging over him,” said Mary Snow, polling analyst for the Quinnipiac Poll.

“While voters prefer Sen. Menendez over Republican Bob Hugin in deep blue New Jersey, they give the incumbent negative approval and favorability ratings,” Snow added.

Gov. Murphy, Sen. Booker, President Trump

New Jersey voters approve 54 – 32 percent of the job Gov. Phil Murphy is doing, up from 44 – 23 percent March 13, shortly after he took office. Approval is 82 – 7 percent among Democrats and 45 – 39 percent among independent voters. Republicans disapprove 64 – 25 percent.

Voters approve 56 – 31 percent of the job U.S. Sen. Cory Booker is doing, compared to 59 – 31 percent March 13. Voters say 51 – 37 percent that Booker should not run for president.

President Donald Trump gets a big negative 33 – 63 percent job approval rating. The conviction of Trump’s former campaign chairman, guilty plea of his former personal lawyer and indictment of two leading congressional supporters came after the survey was completed.

Only 4 percent of New Jersey voters give Gov. Murphy an A for the way he is handling mass transit, with 22 percent giving a B, 32 percent giving a C, 12 percent at D and 14 percent flunking the governor on mass transit.

He gets similar grades for handling roads and highways: A – 5 percent, B – 25 percent, C – 32 percent, D – 13 percent, F – 13 percent.

“New Jersey voters are warming to Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy. They give him less than stellar grades, however, on his handling of mass transit as commuters struggle with delays and cancellations on NJ TRANSIT this summer,” Snow said.

Legalized Marijuana

New Jersey voters support 62 – 33 percent allowing adults to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use, compared to 59 – 37 percent March 13.

Voters also support 63 – 27 percent erasing criminal records for marijuana possession.

By a smaller 50 – 45 percent, voters support the sale of marijuana in their community.

From August 15 – 20, Quinnipiac University surveyed 908 New Jersey voters with a margin of error of +/- 4.6 percentage points, including the design effect. Live interviewers call landlines and cell phones.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts nationwide public opinion surveys, and statewide polls in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Iowa, Colorado and Texas as a public service and for research.

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