A new Quinnipiac University poll of New Jersey voters shows the state’s Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez’s approval ratings have crashed.
Only 36 percent of New Jersey voters approve of Menendez’s performance, whereas 41 percent disapprove of it, according to a poll conducted from Feb. 13 to Feb. 17. Quinnipiac notes this is “a 15-point drop in less than a month,” as Menendez has a 51 percent approval rating, and 33 percent disapproval rating, as recently as January 23.
Even fewer voters think he is “honest and trustworthy.” An overwhelming 44 percent of New Jersey voters do not think he tells the truth, compared to 28 percent who do.
To make matters worse for Menendez, 70 percent of voters in New Jersey have read or heard something about the scandal involving his connections to Democratic Party mega-donor Dr. Salomon Melgen and allegations of prostitution solicitation. The scandal has severely damaged Menendez’s reputation with his state’s voters. Fifty-nine percent of voters say the scandal makes them feel less favorably about Menendez, while only 35 percent say it does not affect their opinion of him.
Fifty-three percent of New Jersey voters are not satisfied with how Menendez has handled the issue thus far; only 28 percent are satisfied with his response.
Perhaps more importantly, 67 percent of New Jersey voters think this scandal is worth investigating and that the allegations are not politically motivated. A miniscule 23 percent of New Jersey voters think the allegations are politically motivated.
Quinnipiac University Polling Institute director Maurice Carroll said these new polling numbers for Menendez are devastating.
“U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez took an overseas trip and the poll numbers he left behind in New Jersey are dreadful - down 15 points in less than a month," Carroll said in a statement. “More than two thirds of voters have heard of his troubles and the more they know, the less they approve.”
“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 added. “But, by almost 3-1, voters think the Menendez charges are worth investigating. About one quarter think it's just politics.”
Menendez has hired Matt Miller, a former senior press aide to Attorney General Eric Holder, to try to manage his public perception throughout this scandal. Miller has planted some stories in media outlets like the New York Times and the Washington Post, but has largely failed to fix the senator’s image amid the scandal.