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Menendez independent bid would garner less than 10 percent support in NJ: Poll

A potential independent run from Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) for his Senate seat would garner less than 10 percent of the vote from New Jersey voters, according to a new poll released Tuesday. 

The poll from Emerson College Polling/PIX11/The Hill showed Menendez would only receive 9 percent support in the general election as an independent, as opposed to 49 percent for the Democratic nominee and 42 percent for the Republican nominee. 

Menendez has served in the Senate since being appointed to the seat in 2006 and winning subsequent elections, but his approval rating has largely bottomed out in the months following his indictment over allegations that he and his wife, Nadine, accepted bribes. 

The two of them were initially charged in September with prosecutors alleging that they accepted more than $600,000 in bribes from three businessmen in exchange for favors, including putting pressure on officials to end or slow down investigations into those businessmen or their allies. 

Menendez has also been accused of serving as a foreign agent on behalf of the Egyptian government and accepting gifts from the Qatari government. Multiple superseding indictments have added charges to the case. 

Menendez has pleaded not guilty to all charges and refused calls for him to step down. He announced last month. just ahead of New Jersey’s filing deadline, that he would not run in the Democratic primary for his seat but would consider an independent bid in the general election if he is exonerated. 

The poll from Tuesday found Menendez only has a 14 percent job approval rating among New Jersey voters and a 62 percent disapproval rating. His approval rating is slightly better with voters of color and younger voters, but only somewhat. 

“Hispanic and Black voters in New Jersey are more supportive of Menendez as an independent candidate, 17% support the senator rather than a hypothetical Democratic or Republican candidate, compared to 6% of white voters,” Spencer Kimball, the executive director of Emerson College Polling, said in a release. “Additionally, 24% of voters under 30 support Menendez on a three-way ballot.” 

Only 22 percent of Democrats and 9 percent of Republicans and independents approve of the job he is doing, and only 7 percent of voters over 60 approve. 

The poll also found Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) leading significantly in the Democratic primary for the seat with 51 percent of Democratic primary voters, while his challengers are in the single digits. 

The poll was conducted from March 26-29 among 1,000 registered voters with a credibility interval of 3 points. The sample included 408 Democratic primary voters with a credibility interval of 4.8 points and 310 Republican primary voters with a credibility interval of 5.5 points.

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