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Poll: Menendez up 5 points in New Jersey Senate race

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) holds a 5-point lead over Republican opponent Bob Hugin in the tighter-than-expected New Jersey Senate race, according to a new Emerson College poll.

The Emerson poll found Menendez ahead of Hugin, a former pharmaceutical company CEO, 47 percent to 42 percent, among likely New Jersey voters polled. Seven percent remained undecided.

Sunday’s poll is in line with other recent surveys showing Menendez with a mid to high single-digit lead. The latest public poll from Rutgers University Eagleton Institute of Politics also showed Menendez with a 5-point lead, but with him breaking 50 percent of the overall vote in that sample.

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Menendez’s Senate campaign has been dogged by his past legal woes. In 2015, he was indicted on bribery and fraud charges, but federal prosecutors dropped the charges after his trial ended in a hung jury.

The poll shows Menendez with a negative favorability. Thirty-four percent of those surveyed have a favorable opinion of the Democratic senator, while 53 percent have an unfavorable one. Meanwhile, Hugin has a positive favorability rating among respondents, with 40 percent viewing him favorably and 33 percent, unfavorably.

But President Trump remains unpopular in New Jersey, a state he lost by 14 points in the 2016 election. He has a negative favorability, with 36 of respondents viewing him positively compared to 57 percent who view him negatively.

Menendez has frequently attacked Hugin for his ties to Trump since the Republican served as the chairman of Trump’s New Jersey campaign in 2016.

The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, moved the Senate race from “lean Democratic” to “toss-up” last week, a surprising development in deep-blue New Jersey.

While Menendez is still favored to win, the closeness of the race has forced national Democrats to spend millions on the race, which diverts resources needed for more competitive Senate battlegrounds where Trump is more popular.

Democrats are defending 10 incumbents in states that Trump carried in 2016, with half of them in places where he had double-digit margins of victory.

Republicans are looking to hold and expand their narrow 51-49 Senate majority.

The poll was conducted from Oct. 24-26 and surveyed 659 likely voters. The margin of error was 4 percentage points.

Tags 2018 midterms Bob Menendez Donald Trump New Jersey New Jersey Senate Race poll
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