Up for re-election in 2012, President Barack Obama has an approval rating of 47% to 41% and U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-Hoboken) polls “comfortably ahead” of Republicans who may oppose him, according to a poll released this morning by Fairleigh University’s PublicMind.
Menendez’s lead ranges from 10 points over state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R-Westfield) (44%-34%) and state Sen. Michael Doherty (R-Washington Twp.) (40%-30%), to 21 points over Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (47%-26%). He runs ahead of state Sen. Joe Kyrillos (R-Middletown) (41%-29%), biotech entrepreneur John Crowley (44%-30%), and state Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Red Bank) (42%-29%). Tom Kean Jr. does best among Republican voters and “lean Republican” voters with 73% support.
Guadagno trails the field with just 59% support among Republicans and “lean Republicans.”
“The fortunes of the president and Menendez are bound together,” said political scientist Peter Woolley, director of the poll. “They rode an anti-Republican tide into office. Republicans are hoping an anti-Democratic tide takes them away. But in this state, Republicans will also need a candidate who can reach beyond Republican voters.”
Obama’s approval rating of 47%-41% is down from 51%-40% in November, but similar to his measure of 47%-43% in October, according to the PublicMind poll. The President’s approvals are higher among women (53%) than men (41%) and among voters under 30 years old (60%) than over 30 (46%).
“Obama’s approval, even if tepid, comes despite that many voters are unhappy with the health care bill, unhappy with the economy and unhappy with the direction of the country,” said Woolley.
Even though the president’s ratings aren’t upside down, the centerpiece of his legislative accomplishments, health care, comes out behind, according to the poll.
“While a third (34%) of voters say they will be better off with the health care reform bill passed last year, many more (44%) say they think they’ll be worse off. A majority of voters under 30 years of age (56%) think they’ll be better off, but voters over 30 don’t agree. And while a majority of voters in the president’s party (57%) say they’ll be better off with the health care bill, their 57% is not enough to offset more than three of four Republicans (77%) who say they’ll be worse off. Voters are somewhat more willing to say that the country will be better off with the health care bill: They split, 42% saying the country will be better off and 43% saying it will be worse off.”
Fifty-two percent of those polled continue to say the country is on the wrong track, compared to just 35% who say it is headed in the right direction, a gap of 17 percentage points but an improvement from November’s 27-point difference and October’s 30-point gap. The improvement comes despite that 40% say the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan is going well, but 47% say it is not going well.
Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind conducted the statewide poll of 802 registered voters by telephone using both landlines and cell phones from Jan. 3 through Jan. 9. The poll has a margin of error of +/-3.5 percentage points.