Poll finds little support for Menendez reelection

Poll finds little support for Menendez reelection

Half of New Jersey voters say Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezIn judge's 2010 Senate trial, Menendez was guilty of hypocrisy Excused Menendez juror: 'I don't think he did anything wrong' We don't need a terrorist attack to know diversity program has to go MORE (D-N.J.) doesn't deserve to be reelected to the Senate in 2018, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.

Fifty percent of respondents oppose the embattled senator's reelection, while only 20 percent say otherwise. Thirty percent were undecided, according to the poll.

Meanwhile, Menendez's approval rating has hit its lowest point in nearly a decade. The poll pegged his current job approval at just 31 percent. A separate Quinnipiac poll in 2008 put his approval at 30 percent. 

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Menendez is currently on trial for corruption and bribery charges alongside Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye doctor and longtime friend of the senator. 

Federal prosecutors contend that Menendez accepted expensive gifts, political donations and lavish vacations from Melgen, in exchange for using his political office to lobby on behalf of the eye doctor's personal and business interests.

The alleged favors include helping to secure visas for Melgen's foreign mistresses, intervening in a dispute between the eye doctor and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and advocating for a lucrative port security contract in the Dominican Republican held by a company owned by Melgen.

Menendez and Melgen have denied the charges, arguing that the gifts and benefits given to the senator were simply a product of their decades-old friendship. Menendez has also contended that his actions were part of his legitimate legislative duties.

If Menendez is convicted, he will not automatically be removed from the Senate, though he could choose to resign or be voted out by his colleagues in the chamber.

In the event that Menendez were to leave the Senate, either by choice or by force, before January, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, would be empowered to choose his replacement — presumably a member of the GOP. 

Still, if he remains in the Senate after his trial, Menendez would likely face a tough reelection bid.

"This survey was conducted as federal prosecutors opened their case against U.S. Sen. Robert MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezIn judge's 2010 Senate trial, Menendez was guilty of hypocrisy Excused Menendez juror: 'I don't think he did anything wrong' We don't need a terrorist attack to know diversity program has to go MORE - perhaps poisoning the landscape. If Sen. Menendez is convicted, he obviously won't be in the running next year. If he is acquitted, who knows," Maurice Carroll, the assistant director of Quinnipiac University Polls, said.