Kim, Murphy learning statewide lesson: Most don’t even know either candidate

The good news for U.S. Rep. Andy Kim in his bid to earn the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate? The more people learn about him, the more they tend to like him.

At least, that’s the take of the latest Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. The poll, released Friday, said his favorability rating has increased 6 percentage points — to 26% — since last November, while his unfavorable rating (10%) stayed the same.

Why are the numbers so low?

That represents his biggest challenge. The poll showed nearly half (45%) were unaware of Kim (D-3rd Dist.) and nearly a quarter (23%) were unsure of him.

Of course, getting name recognition from voters always is a challenge.

First lady Tammy Murphy, considered the other top candidate for the nomination, also is facing recognition issues, just on a smaller scale, as 38% are unaware of her candidacy and 24% are unsure.

Murphy’s favorability ratings also are up (by 5 points, to 18%), but her unfavorable ratings are up too (up 6 points, to 20%).

While Kim and Murphy each garner about the same numbers from Democrats, Kim has an edge with independents — 23% favorable versus 12% favorable for Murphy.

What does this all mean? Not a whole lot. The election still is months away and, clearly, most of the electorate does not know enough about either candidate. It is, however, a snapshot of time in the race.

At least, that’s the take of Ashley Koning, an assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University – New Brunswick.

“Both Andy Kim and Tammy Murphy still have a long way to go in terms of name recognition, and they only have less than five months to do it,” she said. “If there is any real difference in public opinion on these two candidates right now, Kim has had slightly more positive movement in his numbers compared to Murphy among the small number of those who provided an opinion, but the verdict is still out on each of them for the vast majority of New Jerseyans.”

The candidates shouldn’t feel too bad. Name recognition apparently isn’t what it once was. Four percent of those polled didn’t know who was serving as governor.