New Poll: Strong Majority of NJ Residents Want Sen. Menendez to Resign
In light of the newest round of criminal charges against New Jersey U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, most Garden State residents believe he should resign rather than serve out his term through 2024, according to the latest poll out of Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Seventy percent of New Jersey adults in the FDU poll said that Menendez should get out of office in advance of a potential re-election bid next year. Sixteen percent said he should stay put as he challenges allegations that he accepted bribes and acted as a foreign agent.
Respondents on both sides of the political aisle were more likely to call for Mendenez's resignation than to say he should remain the state's senior U.S. senator. Eighty percent of Republicans, 71% of Democrats, and two-thirds of independents in the poll said he should resign.
"Support for Menendez staying in office is highest among Black voters, but even there only 25% say that he should stay in office," said Dan Cassino, director of the poll and a professor of government and politics at FDU.
A spokesperson for Menendez said the FDU poll is "fundamentally flawed — reflecting the reality that the public has only seen a limited set of facts presented by the prosecution to be as salacious as possible."
"Once the truth is known and the real facts are presented, the polling will change once the senator is found innocent," the spokesperson said.
This is the second corruption case against Menendez over the past decade. His last bribery trial ended in 2017 with a hung jury.
Will Menendez resign?
Despite calls from top leaders, including Senate colleagues and Gov. Phil Murphy, for Menendez to give up his seat, the three-term senator has not budged and says he will clear his name.
He has stepped down as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; that's a rule for any member charged with a felony.
Menendez pleaded not guilty to the bribery charges on Sept. 27. His wife has been charged as well.
One day after the indictment against Menendez was announced, U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., 3rd District, announced that he intends to run for the Senate spot in 2024. Menendez has not yet said whether he intends to fight for the seat as well; his trial is scheduled to start in May.
Will the Menendez charges impact the 2023 election?
All of the seats in the New Jersey Assembly and Senate are up for grabs this November.
The FDU poll included an experiment to gauge whether the latest round of charges against Menendez may act as a weight on the Democratic party in next month's races. Some were asked about their voting plans before being asked about Menendez, and others were asked about Menendez first.
On the whole, priming poll respondents with information about Menendez did not substantially change vote preferences.
"Republicans have been hoping that they could tar the whole New Jersey state Democratic party with Menendez," Cassino said. "But voters don't seem to be buying it."
Compared to a poll in May, New Jersey residents have about the same views today about corruption in New Jersey politics.
"It seems like a degree in corruption is already baked in to how New Jersey voters see their elected officials," Cassino said. "Jersey voters think politicians are so corrupt that criminal charges against a sitting senator just don't move the needle."
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