Poll: Independents Hold Their Noses and Break for Robert Menendez

Unpopular incumbent holds onto his lead in blue state

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., leaves the Senate Democrats' weekly policy lunch in the Capitol in 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A new poll shows Sen. Robert Menendez has steadied his lead in the final stretch, bolstered by a wide advantage among independent voters.

The Democratic incumbent leads former pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin by 15 points, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Monday.

Menendez has widened his lead as Election Day approaches. An October 17 survey found Menendez held just a seven point advantage. Mendendez now outpaces Hugin 55 percent to 40 percent on the eve of Election Day.

The poll shows independent voters have broken for Menendez in recent weeks, suggesting that even some New Jersey voters who are squeamish about casting a ballot for a candidate who was tried for conspiracy and bribery charges last year would prefer that a Democrat hold the seat. 

Hillary Clinton carried New Jersey by 14 points in 2016. Still, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has spent about $1 million to secure the seat.

“While they may hold their nose to cast a ballot for Sen. Bob Menendez, voters signal they want to keep New Jersey’s Senate seat in the ‘D’ column in a blue state where President Donald Trump consistently remains unpopular,” said Mary Snow, a Quinnipiac polling analyst.

Fifty-three percent of independent voters prefer Menendez, while just 39 percent prefer Hugin. 

An earlier Quinnipiac poll found 59 percent of New Jersey voters say Menendez is not honest. 

Pollsters surveyed 1,115 New Jersey likely voters from October 29 to November 4, and reported a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

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