Monmouth poll: Menendez’s rating drops; Booker loses ground

U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez, left, and Cory Booker. (File photos)

The latest Monmouth University Poll released Thursday found that most residents felt a current federal investigation involving Sen. Bob Menendez, the state’s senior senator, has at least some impact on his ability to serve.

Other poll results showed that Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) retains a net positive rating in the state, but has lost ground with independents and Republicans, while President Joe Biden has gone from a split rating to a more negative view mainly due to a decline among independents.

The findings of the poll, conducted by telephone from last Thursday through Monday among 814 New Jersey adults, gave Menendez (D-N.J.) a 35% approval and 44% disapproval rating from all participants and a 36% approval and 45% disapproval rating from registered voters. This marks a reversal from last year (44% approval and 39% disapproval among voters in April 2022).

Menendez has seen his ratings decline among all partisan groups over the past year. While fellow Democrats still gave the senator a net positive rating, his approval number has dropped 8 points, to 58%, and his disapproval number has increased 7 points, to 23%.

Menendez had a 29% approval and 45% disapproval rating among independents and a 14% approval and 74% disapproval rating among Republicans, both of which are more negative than his ratings from these groups last year.

A majority of New Jerseyans (57%) have heard about Menendez being under a current federal investigation. Six in 10 state residents thought this investigation affects his ability to serve the state, either a great deal (27%) or somewhat (33%). Majorities of Republicans (55%), Democrats (60%) and independents (61%) felt the current investigation has at least some impact on Menendez’s ability to serve the state, with Republicans (36%) being more likely than Democrats (19%) to say it has a great deal of impact. Among those who were already aware of the investigation before being polled, 65% said it affects Menendez’s ability to serve, with only slight differences across partisan groups in this opinion.

“Public opinion of Sen. Menendez has ranged from positive to evenly divided to negative at
different points over the past eight years. The current poll results suggest news of a new federal probe is having an impact on that opinion, perhaps even more so than the last time he faced similar scrutiny,” Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said.

In other Monmouth University Poll results, Booker, the state’s junior U.S. senator, received a job rating of 46% approval and 40% disapproval from all New Jersey adults and 47% approval and 40% disapproval from registered voters. This marked the first time since 2019 that Booker’s approval rating has dipped below 50%. It stood at 55% last year.

Meanwhile, Biden’s job rating stood at 41% approval and 52% disapproval among all adults and registered voters alike. Last year, he received a narrowly divided 47% approval and 49% disapproval rating from New Jersey voters. The president continues to earn the approval of 8 in 10 Democrats (81%) and almost no Republicans (5%), which is similar to last year. The decline in Biden’s overall rating is driven mainly by an 8-point drop from last year in his approval number among Garden State independents (29%).