Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., holds a double-digit lead over Republican state Sen. Joe Kyrillos in a new Quinnipiac University poll released early Thursday, even as the presidential race in the Garden State is becoming more competitive.
The poll shows Menendez leading Kyrillos, 50 percent to 40 percent, with 10 percent of likely voters undecided. In the previous Quinnipiac poll of all registered voters, conducted in mid-July, Menendez led Kyrillos by 13 points.
Kyrillos remains little-known in the state, with nearly two-thirds of likely voters saying they haven't heard enough about him to form an opinion. Menendez's image ratings are positive: 42 percent favorable, compared to 28 percent favorable. And 49 percent approve of the job he is doing, compared to just 33 percent who disapprove.
On Wednesday, the Kyrillos campaign released to reporters results of an internal, automated poll conducted around the same time period; that poll showed him trailing Menendez by only 4 points. Automated polls do not meet Hotline On Call's standards for publication.
The poll does show a tighter race at the top of the ticket than some may have expected. President Obama leads Mitt Romney, 51 percent to 44 percent, with 5 percent undecided or preferring another candidate.
The Quinnipiac poll was conducted Aug. 27-Sept. 2, stretching from the start of the Republican National Convention and continuing into Labor Day Weekend. The poll surveyed 1,471 likely voters, for a margin of error of plus-or-minus 2.6 percentage points.