Sen. Frank Lautenberg leads Rep. Ron Andrews by a 35%-20% margin in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary, with Morristown Mayor Donald Cresitello at 8%, according to a new Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey poll released today. Lautenberg has 59%-19% approval rating among New Jersey Democrats, and a 48%-31% statewide approval. Andrews has a 13%-15% approval rating among Democratic voters and just 44% of Democrats recognize his name. But 61% of voters – and 56% of Democrats — say its time for a new person in the Senate, and just 26% say the 84-year-old Lautenberg should be re-elected.
Voters are split on whether Lautenberg is getting too old to be an effective Senator: 41% say he is, but 46% say he’s not.
“Saying you want new blood is a far cry from actually voting against a seasoned incumbent,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “While we did not run a true likely voter match-up for the Senate primaries, the poll indicates that Democratic voters appear unwilling to oust Lautenberg.”
Former Rep. Dick Zimmer has a wide lead among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents in a contest where none of the three candidates are well-known. Zimmer is at 25%, followed by State Sen. Joseph Pennacchio at 5% and Ramapo College Professor Murray Sabrin at 4%.
“The Republican contenders don’t seem to be generating a lot of enthusiasm among GOP voters,” said poll director Murray.
More than half of New Jersey voters (54%) say they want to keep the Senate seat in Democratic hands – this seat has been held by the Democrats since 1959, and the GOP hasn’t won a U.S. Senate race in New Jersey since 1972.