In the New Jersey Senate race, Rep. Andy Kim has emerged as the frontrunner, holding a substantial double-digit lead over his primary competitor, first lady Tammy Murphy, according to the latest poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University released on Friday.
This survey, the first public independent poll for the campaign to replace indicted Sen. Bob Menendez, offers insights into the preferences of 504 likely primary voters, testing Menendez and three declared candidates – Kim, Murphy, and labor leader Patricia Campos Medina.
The results of the poll highlight Kim’s strong position with 32 percent support compared to Murphy’s 20 percent. Menendez, facing a decline in popularity due to recent indictments, secured 9 percent support, while Campos Medina trailed with 8 percent. The survey did not assess other minor candidates, including activist Lawrence Hamm.
Despite Murphy’s active role in government and her considerable institutional Democratic support, Kim’s campaign has gained traction, especially among the progressive base.
The poll emphasizes the enthusiastic backing Kim has received from progressives critical of the party’s boss system that historically supported Menendez.
The dynamics of the race are further complicated by Menendez’s uncertain reelection plans, leaving room for potential shifts in the Democratic primary landscape.
Menendez, whose popularity has waned following federal indictments alleging favors in exchange for financial benefits and accusations of acting as an unregistered agent for the Egyptian government, faces a challenging political environment.
The county line system in New Jersey, which provides favorable ballot placement in key Democratic counties, is expected to play a crucial role in the primary.
Murphy, benefiting from significant party endorsements and showcasing strength as a fundraiser with $3.2 million raised since November, appears well-positioned within the established party apparatus.
However, Kim’s appeal to the progressive base, coupled with the disapproval of the party’s boss system by many progressives, has added an interesting dynamic to the race.
The poll director, Dan Cassino, notes that the election is a test of whether county organizations still wield enough power to determine a candidate, especially given Murphy’s dip in support.
The survey also highlights the racial disparities in candidate support. Kim leads among whites and Asians, while Murphy has an advantage among Black and Hispanic likely primary voters.
The battle between white liberals supporting Kim and more moderate Black and Hispanic voters backing Murphy adds complexity to the race.
The poll, conducted by Braun Research from Jan. 21 to Jan. 28, utilized live-caller telephone interviews and text-to-web surveys, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.
The results offer a comprehensive snapshot of the evolving dynamics in the New Jersey Senate race, with implications for the broader political landscape.