Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Menendez goes into election day 9.2% ahead of Republican Bob Hugin, according to a Real Clear Politics average of recent independent polls.
Menendez has a 15-point lead, 55%-40%, in a Quinnipiac University poll released this morning. That followed last Friday’s Stockton University poll that had Menendez ahead by 12 points, 41%-39%. Polls from Emerson College and Rutgers-Eagleton had Menendez up by 5, and an October Monmouth University poll – widely viewed as the gold standard of New Jersey polls – put Menendez up by 9.
It’s hard to imagine a scenario where every poll is meteorically wrong.
Hugin has not led in a single independent poll, and his RCP polling average has him at 41%, about where Republican U.S. Senate candidates usually are in New Jersey. He has spent most of the campaign in the high 30’s or low 40’s, with his high point being 46% in a Rutgers-Eagleton poll a few weeks ago.
Today’s Quinnipiac poll is almost identical to a Monmouth poll released the day before the 2014 mid-term election. That poll showed incumbent Cory Booker with a 54%-40% lead over Republican Jeff Bell. Booker won that race 56%-42%.
The virtually unknown Bell, who had run for U.S. Senate in 1978 and 1982, spent less than $600,000 on his campaign. President Barack Obama had a 47%-42% approval rating in New Jersey four weeks before the 2014 mid-term election, and Booker had favorables of 39%-21%. Nearly seven of ten New Jersey likely voters (68%) did not know who Bell a month before election day was, when Booker led 53%-38%.
The self-funding pharmaceutical company CEO faces an unpopular Republican president and a nearly insurmountable voter registration gap. New Jersey has 921,531 more Democrats than Republicans. More than $40 million, much of it in attack ads aimed at Menendez, has not put Hugin an any stronger position than Bell was.
It’s been 4,430 days since a Quinnipiac poll has shown a New Jersey Republican in the lead in a U.S. Senate race. A September 20, 2006 poll had Tom Kean, Jr. 3-points ahead of Menendez. Menendez won, 53%-44%.
Republicans have not won a U.S. Senate election in New Jersey since 1972; only Hawaii has gone longer without electing a GOP U.S. Senator than New Jersey.