Voters prefer dishonest incumbent over Trump ally

With a big lift from New Jersey women, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, the Democratic incumbent, leads former pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin, the Republican challenger, 53 – 42 percent among likely voters, according to a recent Quinnipiac University Poll.

Only 5 percent of likely voters remain undecided, but 13 percent of voters who do name a candidate say they could change their mind by Election Day.

Women back Sen. Menendez 57 – 38 percent, while men are divided 48 – 48 percent.

This is the first survey of likely voters in this race by the independent Quinnipiac University Poll and can not be compared to earlier surveys of registered voters.

Republicans go to Hugin 93 – 6 percent, as Democrats back Menendez 93 – 6 percent. Independent voters are divided with 48 percent for Hugin and 43 percent for Menendez.

The incumbent leads 67 – 26 percent among non-white voters. White voters are divided with 49 percent for Hugin and 48 percent for Menendez.

New Jersey likely voters give Menendez a split 46 – 44 percent job approval rating and a big negative 34 – 53 percent favorability rating. Hugin gets a positive 35 – 27 percent favorability rating, with 34 percent who don’t know enough about him to form an opinion.

“Sen. Robert Menendez has the advantage of representing very blue New Jersey, where there are many more Democrats than Republicans,” said Mary Snow, polling analyst for the Quinnipiac University Poll.

“Also working to his advantage is that 63 percent of New Jersey voters want Congress to be more of a check on President Donald Trump. That number is even higher among women.”

New Jersey likely voters say 59 – 25 percent that Sen. Menendez is not honest. But Menendez cares about average people, voters say 48 – 39 percent.

Hugin is honest, voters say 39 – 24 percent. He cares about average people, voters say 38 – 31 percent, with 31 percent undecided.

“New Jersey likely voters may prefer Sen. Menendez over Republican challenger Bob Hugin, but they certainly make it clear they are not fond of Menendez,” Snow added.

“Only one quarter of voters believe the incumbent is honest. Hugin, a former pharmaceutical executive, scores higher on honesty, at 39 percent, but just about as many people don’t know enough about him to say for sure.”

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