Poll: Menendez, despite negative favorability rating, up 7 points in Senate race

File photos U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, left, is in a tough race against former Celgene head Bob Hugin.

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez is in the lead against former pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin for a seat in the Senate, according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released Wednesday.

Despite negative favorability ratings (36-52 percent), Menendez is up 55 percent to Hugin’s 44 percent. These results compare to a 53-42 percent lead by Menendez in an early October poll by Quinnipiac.

Hugin has a positive 39-30 percent favorability rating, with 28 percent who haven’t formed an opinion on him yet.

There are only about 5 percent of voters undecided. Ten percent of voters who have selected their candidate already say they could change their mind come Election Day.

According to the most recent study:

  • Women back Menendez 56-38 percent;
  • Men are divided, but Hugin is in the lead 51-46 percent;
  • Non-white voters back Menendez 63-28 percent;
  • White voters back Hugin 52-46 percent;
  • Republicans back Hugin 96-2 percent;
  • Democrats back Menendez 92-6 percent;
  • Independents back Hugin 51-44 percent.

“Support from women remains key to Sen. Robert Menendez’ standing in this race as his favorability rating is stuck deep underwater,” Mary Snow, polling analyst for the Quinnipiac Univeristy Poll.

“The question for Bob Hugin is: can he win over those voters who say they are undecided or are backing Menendez and indicate they may change their mind? It will come down to how he defines himself in these last few weeks before Election Day as nearly 30 percent of voters say they haven’t heard enough about him to form an opinion of him.”

The poll, which surveyed 873 New Jersey likely voters from Oct. 10-16, has a margin of error of +/- 4.3 percentage points.