Menendez Faces Sharp Drop in Approval Ratings

Thursday, 21 Feb 2013 09:21 AM

By Lisa Barron

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The controversy surrounding Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey has taken a severe toll on his approval ratings, leading to a 15 percent drop in a new poll released Thursday by Quinnipiac University.

The poll of 1,149 registered voters taken Feb. 13-14 shows that residents of the Garden State disapprove of the job Menendez is doing by 41 percent to 36 percent, a drop of 15 points in less than a month. Survey participants also say they no longer view him as honest and trustworthy by a margin of 48 percent to 28 percent.

Last month, it was reported that Menendez is being investigated by the FBI for allegedly taking part in parties with underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic during repeated trips with a campaign donor. His office has denied the allegations.

The latest approval rating is down from a 51 percent to 33 percent score in a January 22 Quinnipiac survey and is Menendez’ lowest score since August 2011, when he had a negative 39 percent to 42 percent approval rating.

“U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez took an overseas trip and the poll numbers he left behind in New Jersey are dreadful,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “So much for a re-election honeymoon.”

“More than two thirds of voters have heard of his trouble and the more they know, the less they approve,” he continued.

Seventy percent of New Jersey voters are aware of the controversy surrounding the senator, and of that group 59 percent say it makes them feel less favorably about the senator, while 35 percent say it doesn’t affect their opinion.

Fifty-three percent are not satisfied with how Menendez is handling the issue, while 28 percent are satisfied. And 67 percent say the allegations are worth investigating, while 23 percent say they are politically motivated.

“Whenever a politician gets a new job, such as Sen. Menendez’ position as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the knives come out,” Carroll said. “But, by almost 3-1 voters think the Menendez charges are worth investigating. About one quarter think it’s just politics.”

Menendez replaced Sen. John Kerry as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee last month when Kerry became Secretary of State.

The independent Quinnipiac poll also looked at New Jersey’s 2014 Senate race, finding that Newark Mayor Cory Booker, a Democrat, leads TV personality Geraldo Rivera, a Republican, by 59 percent to 23 percent.

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