FDU Poll: Kim leads Murphy, 32%-20%, with 31% undecided

Incumbent Menendez (9%), Campos Medina (8%) score better than expected in poll for Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate seat

First lady Tammy Murphy has easily outdistanced the field when it comes to earning endorsements from party chairs and organization leaders in her effort to earn the Democratic nomination for a seat in the U.S. Senate, but the FDU Poll released Friday morning shows Murphy is not getting the same support from voters.

U.S. Rep. Andy Kim holds a 32%-20% lead among Democratic primary voters when asked who they favored for the seat currently held by embattled U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) — with 31% saying they are undecided.

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez. (File photos)

Perhaps surprisingly, Menendez (who has not said whether he intends to run for reelection) holds the support of 9% of Democratic primary voters. Labor activist Patricia Campos-Medina has 8% support.

Support from county organizations will give Murphy will the so-called line on the ballot (which some feel brings a double-digit advantage), but, so far, it does not appear to be resonating against Kim, the more seasoned political veteran who has represented New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District since 2019.

Dan Cassino, a professor of government and politics at FDU, and the director of the poll, said the race will show the power of the line.

“Generally, institutional support is enough to win a primary in New Jersey,” he said. “With Murphy down, this election is a test of whether county organizations still have the power to choose a candidate.”

Patricia Campos-Medina.

Breaking down the numbers shows some interesting trends, including:

  • Kim’s 12-point lead among all Democratic primary voters is substantially larger among self-identified liberals (40 to 19, with 49% of Democratic primary voters identifying as “liberal”);
  • Kim’s lead is even higher among progressives (43 to 18, with 41% identifying);
  • Murphy holds a lead among smaller groups of Democrats, including those who identify as

conservatives (7% of Democratic primary voters).

Note that respondents were able to pick as many identifiers as they wanted.

Casano said how liberal voters feel the candidates are could be a key. Kim, he said, polled as being more liberal than either Murphy or Menendez.

Dan Cassino of the FDU Poll.

“Neither Murphy nor Kim are hard left candidates, and there’s not a whole lot of room between their issue positions,” Cassino said. “But the perceived link between Murphy and the state’s Democratic power brokers is leading Democrats to see her as more conservative than Kim.”

Then, there’s name recognition — and how it goes with approval/disapproval ratings.

  • Murphy had a substantial advantage in name recognition, with 68% of Democratic primary voters saying that they know who she is, compared with 52% for Kim;
  • Kim had an advantage in favorability, with 24% saying that they “strongly approve” of him, compared with 13% for Murphy;
  • Only 2% of Democratic primary voters said they disapprove (strongly or somewhat) of Kim; Murphy’s disapproval is at 14%;
  • Menendez has 90% name recognition, but a majority of Democratic primary voters (53%) said they “strongly” disapprove of him;
  • Only 14% said they recognized Campos-Medina.

As for ethnicity, support breaks down as follows:

  • White voters: Kim had a commanding lead over Murphy, 47-15;
  • Black voters: Murphy led Kim, 24-16;
  • Asian voters: Kim led Murphy, 34-24;
  • Hispanic voters: Murphy led Kim, 26-10 (with Menendez at 15 and Campos-Medina at 13);

“The real fight here is between white liberals, who are largely backing Kim, and more moderate Black and Hispanic voters, who are lining up behind Murphy,” Cassino said. “Kim has always run as a centrist candidate, but these liberal voters dislike the county organizations enough that they’ve adopted him as one of their own.”