WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. — No one is surprised to see the relatively unknown Republican presumptive nominee Bob Hugin trailing incumbent U.S. Senator Bob Menendez at this stage of the race.
What is a little more surprising?
According to Monmouth University, “15% of all registered voters prefer Menendez for Senate and are unaware of his legal troubles,” and “[j]ust over half of this group say they are less likely to support the incumbent after hearing this information which provides an opening for Hugin to pick up some support.”
“There’s no question that Bob Menendez is starting off this year’s race under a cloud because of his recent legal troubles. Many voters are already aware of this and have figured it into their vote calculation, but this information is news to some current Menendez supporters and could impact his support,” opined Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.
Is it an opening for Hugin? Who, at present, has 82% of polled registered voters reporting they do NOT know enough about him to form a election day opinion?
“If the Republican nominee can swing over every Menendez voter who is just learning about his court case, this race could get a lot closer. But that is a big ‘if.’ For one, many of these low information voters are unlikely to turn out in November anyway. But more importantly, it does not take into account how tenacious Menendez can be once campaigning starts in earnest. It will take a very concerted and effective messaging effort by Hugin to turn this issue into a net gain for him,” added Murray.
Click here to read the full polling report.