A new poll shows little change in how New Jersey voters view Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, despite recent allegations that he patronized underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic and improperly assisted a wealthy donor currently under investigation.
The Monmouth University/Asbury Park Press poll shows Menendez's approval rating at 41 percent, one point higher than in April of last year, the last time they asked the question. The percentage of voters who disapprove of Menendez's job performance ticked up six percentage points over that time, from 25 percent to 31 percent. On balance, Mendendez's approval ratings in the poll closely resemble prior ratings during the last two years.
Only 32 percent of Garden State voters say they have heard "a lot" about "trips ... Menendez took to the Dominican Republic on a donor's plane," the poll shows. An additional 36 percent say they have heard "a little" about it, and three-in-ten voters say they have heard "nothing at all."
"Right now, the unfolding story has not hurt Senator Menendez's standing among New Jersey voters, in part because very few voters have been following it all that closely," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.
The poll was conducted Feb. 6-10, surveying 697 registered voters. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 3.7 percentage points.
Menendez was reelected to a second term last November, earning 59 percent of the vote. The Newark Star-Ledger has reported that the FBI is investigating Menendez's relationship to Salomon Melgen, a Florida doctor who has contributed to Menendez's campaigns. Menendez has already repaid $58,500 for two flights to the Dominican on Melgen's plane.