Following a series of criminal charges against New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, 70% of the state’s residents want him to resign, rather than serve out his term, a new Fairleigh Dickinson University poll finds.
According to the latest results from the FDU Poll, Menendez has lost the support of voters across the political spectrum, and reminding voters of the issue leads independent voters to be more likely to support Republican candidates in the upcoming election for control of the state legislature.
“Menendez has been able to weather charges in the past,” Dan Cassino, a professor of Government and Politics at FDU, and the director of the poll, said in a statement. “But this time, it just doesn’t seem like he has any real support left.”
According to the poll, 70% of residents say that Menendez should resign in advance of a potential re-election bid next year, with just 16% saying that he should serve out his time in office.
Republicans were more likely than Democrats or independents to say that New Jersey’s senior senator should go, but not by much: 80% of Republicans say that he should resign, compared with 67% of independents and 71% of Democrats.
There has been some concern among Democrats that Menendez could be an anchor on the party going into the state legislative elections in November, when all the seats in the General Assembly and State Senate will be up for grabs.
To see if reminding voters about Menendez would change whether and how residents voted in the upcoming election, the poll included an experiment in which half of respondents were asked about Menendez, and corruption in New Jersey, before being asked about their vote in November, and half were asked only afterwards.
Priming respondents in this way does make residents more likely to say that they will vote in the November elections for the New Jersey legislature (from 47 percent saying that they will “almost certainly” vote to 54 percent), largely driven by an increase among independents.
Reminding respondents about Menendez also makes independents more likely to say that they’ll vote for the Republican candidate in the upcoming election. When they are not primed with the Menendez and corruption questions, independents favor the Democratic candidate in their district by 6 points, 18 to 12 (51 percent unsure); with the Menendez prime, they favor the Republican candidate 20 to 18 (53 percent unsure), a shift of 8 points.
“Thinking about Menendez makes less partisan voters more likely to say that they’re going to vote Republican,” said Cassino. “The question is whether those voters are going to bother to show up in what’s normally a very low turnout election.”
The poll was conducted between October 6-14 with a sample size of 813 adult New Jersey residents and a margin of error of +/- 3.5%.