New Jersey’s United States Senators typically get mixed reviews in independent public opinion polls taken the year before they run for re-election. Frank Lautenberg, with a 41%-32% approval rating in a Quinnipiac University poll earlier this week, was at 42%-42% in 1993 (Eagleton/Rutgers) and at 48%-26% in 1987 (Eagleton-Rutgers). Bob Torricelli was at 42%-26% in 2001.
Actually, the Senator with the best approval rating was Bill Bradley in 1989: an Eagleton-Rutgers poll had him at 64%-17%. One year later, he nearly lost his bid for re-electon, winning just 50.4% against Christine Todd Whitman in the worst showing for an incumbent U.S. Senator from New Jersey since William Smathers lost his bid for a second term in 1942.