Monmouth poll: Murphy has more name recognition; Kim has higher favorability

Andy Kim and Tammy Murphy.

We interrupt the constant barrage of county conventions and endorsements from folks who rarely give endorsements by asking the following question of the candidates in the state’s high-profile battle to earn the Democratic nomination to represent New Jersey in the U.S. Senate: Would you rather be known or liked?

The latest Monmouth University Poll, released Wednesday morning, answers the question in the showdown between first lady Tammy Murphy and U.S. Rep. Andy Kim.

Murphy was the most recognized name in a field of eight Democratic and Republican candidates vying for New Jersey’s U.S. Senate seat up for election this year. However, Kim had somewhat higher favorablity ratings with the electorate as a whole, as well as among his fellow Democrats.

Here’s how it breaks down:

  • Recognition: About 8 in 10 New Jersey voters (79%) had heard of Murphy and just under 2 in 3 (64%) had heard of Kim;
  • Favorability: Kim had an 18% net positive rating (28% favorable to 10% unfavorable); Murphy had a 12% net negative rating (14% favorable to 26% unfavorable).

Then. there’s this: Even though Murphy has greater name recognition, more voters said they have not formed an opinion of her (40%) than said the same of Kim (26%).

What to make of all this? Let’s go to Patrick Murray, the director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

“Kim has more of a public record than Murphy and it shows in this early read of voter sentiment, but what this poll really tells us is that the Senate race is still an insider’s game at this point,” he said.

“The contenders are currently focused on appealing to a small group of party leaders and committee members as they try to shore up county lines. So, it’s not surprising that the vast majority of actual voters know almost nothing about the field. It will be interesting to see what happens to these opinion gaps after the official filing deadline later this month.”

Murray points out that these poll findings reflect overall general impressions of the announced candidates; they do not necessarily indicate primary election vote intent. (The primary is June 4.)

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from Feb. 29 to March 4, with 801 New Jersey adults. The results are based on 757 registered voters and have a margin of error +/-4.3 percentage points.