New Poll Shows Andy Kim Leading Tammy Murphy by Double Digits in the Democratic Primary Race for the U.S. Senate; Menendez at 9% Approval

Although New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy has been racking up some high-profile endorsements in the race for the Senate seat currently held by embattled Senator Bob Menendez, a new poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University released this morning finds she trails in support among Democratic primary voters.

According to the latest results from the FDU Poll, Rep. Andy Kim, who has represented New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional district since 2019, leads Murphy 32 to 20 among likely Democratic primary voters, with 31% saying that they are still undecided. 

“Generally, institutional support is enough to win a primary in New Jersey,” Dan Cassino, a professor of Government and Politics at FDU, and the director of the poll, said. “With Murphy down, this election is a test of whether county organizations still have the power to choose a candidate.”  

Menendez, the incumbent, holds the support of just 9% of Democratic primary voters, and labor activist Patricia Campos-Medina, who is also in the race, has 8% support.

Kim’s 12-point lead among all Democratic primary voters is substantially larger among self-identified liberals (40 to 19, with 49 percent of  Democratic primary voters identifying as “liberal”) and progressives (43 to 18, with 41 percent identifying).

Murphy holds a lead among smaller groups of Democrats, like those who identify as conservatives (7% of Democratic Primary voters).

Murphy also has a substantial advantage in name recognition, with 68 percent of Democratic primary voters saying that they know who she is, compared to 52 percent for Kim.

Despite that, Kim has an advantage in favorability, with 24% saying that they “strongly approve” of him, compared with 13% for Murphy. Only 2% of Democratic primary voters say that they disapprove (strongly or  somewhat) of Kim; Murphy’s disapproval is at 14 percent.

On the flip side, the incumbent, Menendez, has 90% name recognition, but a majority of Democratic primary voters (53%) say that they “strongly”  disapprove of him. Only 14% say that they recognize Campos-Medina.

Interestingly, Kim is viewed as being more liberal than either Murphy or Menendez. Voters who said that they recognized a candidate were asked to rate them on a 1 to 10, liberal to conservative, scale.

11% put Kim in the most liberal spot (1 out of 10), while only 5% did the same for Murphy. Overall, Kim had a mean ranking of 3.9, compared to 4.5 for Murphy on the liberal to  conservative scale. Menendez was ranked at 4.9. 

“Neither Murphy nor Kim are hard left candidates, and there’s not a whole lot of room between their issue positions,” said Cassino. “But the perceived link between Murphy and the state’s Democratic  power brokers is leading Democrats to see her as more conservative than Kim.” 

Support in the race also breaks down along racial lines. Kim has a commanding lead among white  Democratic primary voters (47 to 15), and a smaller lead among Asian-Americans (34 to 24). However,  Murphy leads among Black voters (24 to 16) and has a large lead among Hispanic voters (26 to 10).  Among Hispanic Democratic Primary voters, both Menendez (15 percent) and Campos-Medina (13  percent) poll as well or better than Kim.  

“The real fight here is between white liberals, who are largely backing Kim, and more moderate Black and Hispanic voters, who are lining up behind Murphy,” said Cassino. “Kim has always run as a centrist  candidate, but these liberal voters dislike the county organizations enough that they’ve adopted him as  one of their own.”

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