Poll finds Menendez approval rising as he fights ethics charges

A new poll shows a bump for Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) as the New Jersey lawmaker battles ethics allegations involving a prominent donor.

A Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday shows him holding a 40 percent approval rating, with 37 percent disapproving of his job. Those figures show a rise from his 36-41 net disapproval rating in February, but are still down from at 51 percent approval, 33 percent disapproval mark in late January.

ADVERTISEMENT
"The fall-out from those scandal stories has wounded Sen. Robert Menendez, but it looks like he has stopped the bleeding and even recovered a little," Maurice Carroll, Quinnipiac University Polling Institute director, said in a statement.

Menendez is facing an ethics probe over accusations that he improperly aided a donor, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen. The Senate Ethics Committee is investigating claims he improperly flew to the Dominican Republic on Melgen’s private plane.

Menendez has also battled claims from the Daily Caller, a conservative website, that he consorted with prostitutes during those trips to the Caribbean.

Menendez has maintained his innocence and denied all charges, claiming they were fabricated in an attempt to politically destroy him. 

Police sources in the Dominican Republic last week said that a lawyer had paid one of the women who claimed to have had sex with Menendez to lie about the encounter. 

But the poll shows Menendez still faces a struggle to regain the confidence of the state’s voters.

Among independents, though, the senator is still underwater with 43 percent disapproval and 33 percent approval.

Thirty-five percent of New Jersey voters say Menendez is honest and trustworthy, with 36 percent saying the senator is not. In last month’s polling, 44 percent said he was not honest and trustworthy to 28 percent who had confidence in the senator.

A slim plurality of voters say they are satisfied with how he is handling the ethics investigation, by 40 percent to 34 percent. 

"A substantial number of voters say the attacks are 'just politics,' but a majority thinks the allegations should be investigated," Carroll added.