According to a recent poll, there’s a real likelihood that the Garden State may turn a bright purple on November 6th. The Stockton University Poll released on October 1st showed GOP challenger Bob Hugin within striking distance of scandal-plagued Senator Bob Menendez.
Moreover, with just two weeks left until Election Day, Hugin has closed the gap to within two percentage points and is beginning to accelerate his momentum into the final stretch of the campaign.
For those not familiar with Jersey politics the state has two distinctive parts, the rural sections which vote mostly conservative and the heavily populated urban areas like Newark and Trenton which always vote Democratic. However, this voting cycle may actually be a historical event, in that New Jersey has not elected a Republican to the Senate since 1972.
The time for a change has never been better than now, with the voting public finally coming to terms and realizing that the incumbent Democratic Senator barely escaped going to jail for corruption. The lingering doubts about his integrity continued after the trial ended.
The corruption started when Senator Menendez decided to accept gifts from a wealthy ophthalmologist who had over-billed Medicare by more than 8.9 million dollars. In addition to turning a blind eye, Menendez also assisted foreigners with obtaining visas to visit the wealthy ophthalmologist in the United States.
A blistering letter authored and signed by the entire Senate Ethics Committee reads in part; “Your assistance to Dr. Melgen under these circumstances demonstrated poor judgment, and it risked undermining the public’s confidence in the Senate,” the letter continued. “As such, your actions reflected discredit upon the Senate.”
In a recent article by NBC News; “New Jersey residents, in poll after poll, have expressed concern about the incumbent lawmaker, who escaped a verdict when his federal corruption trial ended in a mistrial last year. Dragged down by sky-high disapproval ratings, Menendez faces a close race to secure a third term in a state that hasn’t elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate since 1972.”
The NBC article continued; “Certainly, the corruption accusations, even if they were dismissed, are out there in a big way, and they have been reinforced by the Hugin advertising juggernaut,” said Ben Dworkin, the director of the Institute for Public Policy and Citizenship at Rowan University, in Glassboro, N.J. “That’s sure to make a difference in how people view Bob Menendez.”
Hugin is a wealthy retired pharmaceuticals executive and has already pumped over $24 million of his own money into his campaign to win the seat for the GOP.
With just two weeks left before New Jersey voters go to the polls, Menendez currently leads his GOP rival by only two percentage points, 45% to 43%.
Two other candidates are also on the ballot, Libertarian Murray Sabrin with 3% while the undecided vote currently stands at 8%.
Here’s where New Jersey may finally turn purple, in that Hugin is viewed favorably by 34% of likely voters, while Menendez is viewed unfavorably by 54% of likely voters. However, 43% of likely voters still aren’t familiar with Hugin, which is problematic.
Pollster William J. Hughes for the Center for Public Policy at Stockton University interviewed 531 likely New Jersey voters who reside within the state and are likely to vote on November 6th. The poll was conducted by phone from Sept. 19-27th. The poll’s margin of error is +/- 4.25% points.
“With a two-point lead falling within the poll’s margin of error, the Senate race at this point is up for grabs,” said Michael W. Klein, interim executive director of the Hughes Center.
“Bob Hugin has been attacking Senator Menendez on ethics with a heavy advertising campaign. However, with so many voters still unfamiliar with the Republican, Menendez will likely try to define his challenger in negative terms,” Klein said.