A new Republican poll released today shows U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez with upside down approval ratings, an indication that the scandal that has embroiled him in recent weeks might be resonating.
The poll, which puts Menendez’s approval at 32 percent against 48 percent who disapprove of the job the senator is doing, was conducted by Harper polling, run by former National Republican Congressional Committee pollster Brock McCleary.
A similar poll from Quinnipiac University released Wednesday pegged Menendez’s approval rating at 40 percent against 37 percent who disapprove.
But the Harper poll goes a step further than any poll has to date, gauging respondents’ opinions on potential successors to Menendez should the senator be forced to step down as a result of the scandal. Allegations that Menendez had consorted with prostitutes, some of them underage, have been all but disproven with revelations that the women were paid to make the accusations – potentially by the Daily Caller, the news outlet that first reported the story.
But Menendez still faces investigations into his ties to donor Salomon Melgen and reports that he intervened with several federal agencies on Melgen’s behalf.
Should the remote possibility of Menendez’s resignation occur, Gov. Chris Christie would have the discretion to call a special election in November.
According to the poll, respondents overwhelmingly prefer state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. as the GOP’s choice. The poll pits Kean against state Sen. Joe Kyrillos, who challenged Menendez and lost handily last year, and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.
From that mix, Kean gets 41 percent to Kyrillos’ 12 percent and Guadagno’s 14 percent.
In a hypothetical Democratic primary, former Gov. Dick Codey gets 33 percent of the vote to 13 percent each for U.S. Reps. Frank Pallone and Rob Andrews and 6 percent for Senate President Steve Sweeney. Undecided voters lead with 35 percent.
In hypothetical head to head matchups, Kean defeats Andrews 33 percent to 17 percent with half the voters undecided, and Codey defeats Kyrillos 34 percent to 25 percent with 41 percent unsure. Pallone defeats Guadagno 21 percent to 19 percent with 60 percent unsure.