After about a year and a half in the Senate, Bob Menendez is struggling to become popular with New Jersey voters.
Voters disapprove of Menendez’s performance by a margin of 39 to 31 percent, according to a Quinnipiac poll released today – the lowest rating Menendez has received in that survey.
Republicans say that Menendez’s low approval ratings will be a burden to the Democratic Party. But the junior Senator has such a long way to go before his next election that the results aren’t exactly pressing, and observers say the low numbers may have more to do with a statewide “throw the bums out attitude” and the remaining sting of his recent brutal campaign against Tom Kean, Jr.
“Senator Lautenberg and Senator Menendez are in a real battle to determine who will land atop voters’ top ten most useless politicians list,” said a press release issued by Wilson. “Senator Menendez’s job approval is at an all-time low in the wake of his efforts to weaken legislation to stem the tide of illegal immigrants flowing into our country.”
The low numbers would probably be more troubling if Menendez was up for re-election in 2008, said one observer, but he doesn’t have to win another race until 2012. In addition, 31 percent of those surveyed were undecided or had no opinion on Menendez, a group that he has plenty of time to work to convert.
“There is a general negative feeling about the direction of the country. So a guy who goes through a nasty race and enters a house or senate in which there is negativity in the country, there’s bound to be sort of a buyer’s remorse,” said Joe Romance, Professor of Political Science at Drew University.
Although his approval rating has not always been negative, it has never broken 40 percent in the Quinnipiac poll through the entire length of his term, even during the run up to his election against Tom Kean, Jr., which he still won by eight points. Menendez’s approval rating peaked at 39%-37% shortly after his victory.
“Part of this is collateral from public opinion of Congress as a whole, and part of it is the ongoing getting-to-know-you process that is to be expected with a newly-elected Senator in a state with extremely competitive markets,” said Menendez spokesman Afshin Mohamadi.