Among likely voters, Republican Thomas Kean, Jr. leads Democratic U.S. Senator Robert Menendez by a 48%-45% margin, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released today. Kean receives 92% of the Republican vote; Menendez gets 85% of the Democratic vote. Among Independents, Kean leads 46%-44%. Kean leads 53%-41% among men, while Menendez is ahead among women, 52%-42%. Menendez leads 58%-39% in a combined region of Essex and Hudson counties, and is ahead 55%-37% in the Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties region. Kean leads a region consisting of Bergen, Passaic, Union, Middlesex and Mercer counties by a 48%-44% margin, the Morris, Somerset, Warren, Sussex and Hunterdon region by a 55%-40% margin, and by a 60%-34% margin in the region made up of Atlantic, Ocean and Monmouth counties. Voters view both candidates as honest and trustworthy: Kean, 40%-13%; and Menendez, 33%-24%. Asked about whether each candidate was part of the ethics problem or the ethics solution, 18% said Kean was part of the problem, while 36% viewed him as part of the solution. For Menendez, 31% say he is part of the problem and 28% identify him as part of the solution. Nearly six out of ten voters (57%) know nothing about a federal probe of Menendez’s lease agreement with the North Hudson Community Action Corporation, while 42% said they knew about it. Among those voters who have read or heard of the investigation, 46% of voters said the investigation makes it less likely that they would vote for Menendez, while 46% said it would make no difference. 41% of voters say that the probe is politically motivated and 42% consider it a serious issue. 48% of voters agree with Menendez’s claim that Kean is a “George Bush Republican who would support the Bush administration policies,” while 25% disagree. 30% of voters say that would make them less likely to vote for Kean, while 21% said it would make them more likely. 41% say it makes no difference. Bush’s approvals in New Jersey are upside-down at 30%-66%.