Sen. Bob Menendez has been involved in a series of federal investigations, with one happening each decade since 2000. | Francis Chung/POLITICO
New Jerseyans gave lower approval ratings to Sen. Bob Menendez as he faces a new federal investigation, according to a new poll from Monmouth University.
Menendez, who is up for reelection next year, had a 35 percent approval rating and 44 percent disapproval among New Jersey adults, according to the poll. Among registered voters, his ratings are 36 percent approval and 45 percent disapproval, a drop from 44 percent and 39 percent, respectively, in 2022.
“Public opinion of Sen. Menendez has ranged from positive to evenly divided to negative at different points over the past eight years,” Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said. “The current poll results suggest news of a new federal probe is having an impact on that opinion, perhaps even more so than the last time he faced similar scrutiny.”
While Menendez still has a net positive approval from Democrats, his overall approval has dropped 8 percent, while disapproval has increased by 7 percentage points. Additionally, Menendez has a 14 percent approval and 74 percent disapproval rate from Republicans and a 29 percent approval and 45 percent disapproval rate from independents, the second-largest share of voters in New Jersey.
Michael Soliman, an adviser to Menendez, said in a statement that the senator “remains consistently strong among Democratic primary voters” statewide and through his interactions with residents.
“Senator Menendez just finished a tour around the state meeting with a diverse group of constituents and stakeholders from specialty crop farmers to law enforcement to small business owners to veterans, and throughout his travels heard over and over again how grateful they are to have a fighter like the senator in Washington working to lower costs for working families and keep New Jersey thriving,” Soliman said. “The numbers that matter are what voters say at the ballot box in November 2024.”
Background: Menendez, who has not been charged, has been involved in a series of federal investigations, with one happening each decade since 2000. Currently, federal investigators are looking into Menendez and his wife’s connections to an Egyptian company.
The poll found that 57 percent of New Jerseyans had heard about Menendez’s investigation and about 60 percent of New Jerseyans think this affects his ability to serve the state. Of those who knew about the investigation, 65 percent think it affects Menendez’s ability to serve.
Menendez stood trial in 2017 on charges of bribery connected to a longtime friend and donor, but it ended in a mistrial and Menendez won another term a year later.
Compared to the previous investigations, Menendez has lower approval ratings than before, according to the poll.
Other findings: New Jersey’s other senator, Cory Booker, also saw a dip in approval but remains net positive.
This is the first time Booker’s approval rating has dipped below 50 percent, according to the poll, with 47 percent approval and 40 percent disapproval from voters.
President Joe Biden’s approval ratings also dropped compared to a poll last year. He received a 41 percent approval rating from registered New Jersey voters and a disapproval rating of 52 percent. In 2022, he had 47 percent approval and 49 percent disapproval. The poll cites this decrease as a result of an 8-point drop in approval ratings from New Jersey independents.
The Monmouth University Polling Institute talked to 814 New Jerseyans by phone and online via text invitation from Aug. 10 to 14 for the poll. It had a 5.4 percent margin of error.