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Menendez, challenger locked in virtual dead heat: poll

Menendez, challenger locked in virtual dead heat: poll
© Greg Nash

Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezTrump lowers refugee goal to 30,000, he must meet it Blame Senate, not FBI, for Kavanaugh travesty Dems urge tech companies to remove 3D-gun blueprints MORE (D-N.J.) is locked in a statistical dead heat in his re-election bid with roughly a month left before Election Day, a poll released Monday found. 

A Stockton University poll showed that Menendez leads challenger Bob Hugin (R), 45-43 in a poll of likely New Jersey voters. The margin falls within the poll’s margin of error of 4.25 percentage points.

More than half of the voters surveyed -- 54 percent -- said they view Menendez unfavorably, compared to 30 percent who view him in a positive light. 

By comparison, 34 percent have a favorable view of Hugin, while 21 percent view him unfavorably and 43 percent are unfamiliar with him. 

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The poll surveyed 531 likely New Jersey voters from Sept. 19-27. It tracks with other recent polls that have showed the race tightening.

Menendez, who is seeking a third term in the Senate, has been dogged by allegations he exchanged political favors for gifts from a Florida doctor even as the Department of Justice dismissed charges earlier this year. Menendez has denied the allegations.

Though he was never convicted, the allegations may prove troublesome for Menendez in his re-election bid. The Stockton poll found that 59 percent of voters say the corruption charges are extremely important or a significant factor in their vote.

However, the poll found that Hugin is also being hit by his tenure as CEO of pharmaceutical company Celgene. Fifty-one percent of respondents said it is an extremely important or significant factor that Celgene is accused of profiting off an expensive cancer drug when Hugin was CEO.

Menendez is seeking reelection for a third term in his campaign against Hugin.

Nonpartisan election forecaster Cook Political Report has deemed the race "likely Democratic," and a RealClearPolitics average of polling in the race shows Menendez with a 8.3 percentage point lead.