POLITICS
02/21/2013 08:25 am ET | Updated Feb 21, 2013

New Jersey Senate Poll: Cory Booker Would Beat Geraldo Rivera, Robert Menendez Loses Support

Cory Booker would defeat Geraldo Rivera by 36 points in a hypothetical 2014 U.S. Senate matchup, according to a New Jersey Senate poll released Thursday by Quinnipiac University, which also found that support for Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) has plummeted.

The Democratic Newark mayor led Fox News' Rivera, who has said he's "truly contemplating a run" as a Republican, by a 2-1 margin, 59 percent to 23 percent.

Booker, whose campaign has been beset by some early turnover, has yet to officially declare his candidacy. He faces a relatively clear primary field since Sen. Frank Lautenberg's (D-N.J.) decision not to seek reelection.

His profile appears to have risen steadily in the past few months. Voters are now 10 percentage points more likely to have heard enough about him to form an opinion than they were in a September Quinnipiac poll. Increasingly, those opinions are positive -- 59 percent of New Jersey voters rated him favorably, compared to 11 percent who rated him unfavorably.

That could give him an advantage over Rivera, who had only a 20 percent favorable rating. Democrats, in particular, were three times more likely to view him negatively than positively, while even Republicans gave him lukewarm support.

An earlier Monmouth University poll found that a majority of voters wouldn't consider casting a ballot for Rivera. “Monmouth Poll shows me a long shot for Senate from NJ but I have not yet begun to fight,” he tweeted in response, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Quinnipiac poll also found that job approval for Menendez has plunged since investigations began about his trips to the Dominican Republic on a political donor's plane. Most voters said they'd heard of the controversy and that the investigation was worthwhile, rather than politically motivated.

His approval rating stood at 36 percent this February, according to Quinnipiac, down from 56 percent after his reelection in November. Only 28 percent of voters said he was "honest and trustworthy," below even the numbers he saw during a previous investigation in 2006.

The Quinnipiac poll surveyed 1,149 registered voters by phone between Feb. 13 and 17.

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