U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-Hoboken) leads former CNN anchor Lou Dobbs by three percentage points, 37%-34%, according to a Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind™ poll released this morning. Menendez is not up until 2012, and there has been speculation that Dobbs, a Sussex County resident, might challenge him.
New Jersey voters are split on the 64-year-old newsman: 22% favorable, 22% unfavorable. Dobbs has 70% statewide name ID. Republicans are more likely than Democrats to recognize Dobbs (76%-64%). Republicans also give him a 2-1 ratio of favorable over unfavorable opinion, 33%-16%. Democrats don’t like him, with a 1-2 ratio, 14%-30%. But among all registered voters, 30% say they don’t recognize his name and another 25% have no opinion of him.
“Dobbs has no obvious traction right now and no clear advantage,” said Peter Woolley, the poll director. “His relatively high name recognition is a plus but that is balanced by a significant amount of unfavorable opinion. He will have to change those numbers by targeting voters who aren’t familiar with his TV persona.”
Dobbs has downplayed reports of a U.S. Senate candidacy, hinting that he might prefer another TV gig.
Menendez has favorables of 28%-28%.
“Expect Menendez to be a lot more visible to his New Jersey constituents in the next two years,” Woolley said.
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-Cliffside Park), who is up in 2014, has upside-down favorables of 35%-38%.
The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 801 registered voters statewide has a margin of error of +/- 3.5% for the Dobbs-Menendez ballot question. Subsets of voters, selected at random, were asked to identify various public figures. For those questions, the margin of error is +/- 4%. The poll was conducted by telephone from Jan. 4, 2010, through Jan. 10, 2010.