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Booker Clings to Positive Job Rating

Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019

Trails top tier 2020 presidential candidates among home state Dems

West Long Branch, NJ – Sen. Cory Booker’s home state job rating has taken a hit since he launched his campaign for president, but remains in net positive territory. Still, most of his fellow New Jersey Democrats prefer one of the other leading candidates for their party’s nomination, according to the Monmouth University Poll.  More New Jerseyans think he would make a better running mate than top of the ticket candidate. The poll also finds that half the public says Booker bears at least some responsibility for the current water crisis in Newark.

Booker earns a 45% approve and 37% disapprove rating from Garden State residents for his performance as the state’s junior U.S. senator. Another 18% have no opinion.  His standing among registered voters is 45% approve and 40% disapprove.  His current voter rating is slightly lower than the 48% approve and 38% disapprove rating he received in February, shortly after he announced his presidential bid. However, his ratings this year are more negative than they were prior to his national campaign. For example, in April 2018, he earned a 54% approve and 31% disapprove rating from New Jersey voters. 

Booker currently receives a positive rating from Democrats (71% approve and 11% disapprove), a negative rating from Republicans (14% approve and 69% disapprove), and a mixed rating from independents (40% approve and 45% disapprove).

The poll also finds that about half of New Jersey residents say Booker has either a great deal (28%) or some (23%) responsibility for the drinking water problem in Newark – the city he led as mayor until 2013.  Just 1-in-5 say he has only a little (10%) or no (10%) responsibility for this. The remainder have no opinion (8%) or are unaware (21%) of recent news reports of high lead levels in the city’s water system.  These results are fairly consistent across all partisan groups.

“Running for president can stretch the patience of home state constituents, and we are seeing some signs of that with Cory Booker. Still, he is managing to hold on to a net positive rating despite his national campaign as well as recent news that brought potentially negative attention to his time as mayor,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

In a presidential preference test among Garden State Democratic voters and independents who lean toward the Democratic Party, Booker (9%) trails former Vice President Joe Biden (26%), Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (20%), and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (18%).  California Sen. Kamala Harris (6%) and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg (6%) are the only other candidates in a field of 19 who garner more than 2% support.

“The field will certainly be much smaller by the time New Jersey’s presidential primary rolls around. Booker’s home state standing could change dramatically if he can score an upset win in one of the February contests. But as it stands right now, Jersey Democrats are gravitating toward the three candidates who currently dominate the national spotlight,” said Murray.

Despite Booker’s lower standing in the presidential preference poll, he earns personal ratings on par with the other top contenders. Among New Jersey Democrats and Democratic leaners, Booker has a 60% favorable to 24% unfavorable rating, which is similar to Biden (64% to 23%), Sanders (63% to 25%), and Warren (59% to 17%).  Booker has better ratings than either Harris (43% to 22%) or Buttigieg (40% to 13%), although both those candidates are not as well known to New Jersey Democrats.

The New Jersey public as a whole has become less likely to feel that Booker would make a good president since he first launched his campaign. Currently, 29% say he would make a good president and 52% say he would not, with 19% having no opinion. In February, 37% felt he would make a good president and 42% said he would not. A small majority of Democrats (55%, down from 65% in February) say Booker would make a good president, compared to just 21% of independents (down from 32%), and 4% of Republicans (similar to 3%).

Reviews are more positive when his constituents picture Booker in the vice presidential slot.  Just under half (48%) say Booker would make a good running mate compared to 39% who say he would not, with another 13% offering no opinion. More than 3-in-4 Democrats (78%) say Booker is solid vice presidential material, compared with 39% of independents and 17% of Republicans who say the same.

Opposition has softened on Booker being on the national ticket in 2020 and simultaneously running for reelection to his U.S. Senate seat.  Nearly half the public (49%) says he should only run for president or vice president, which is down from 66% who said he should only pursue national office seven months ago. On the other hand, 29% say Booker should run for both senate and national office (as allowed by state law), which is up slightly from 21% in February. Another 22% have no opinion on what Booker should do in this situation, which is up from 13%.  It should be noted that the February question only asked about the possibility of Booker running for president, while the current poll question included president or vice president as the national office option.  Opposition to Booker being on the 2020 ballot for two different offices has dropped among all partisan groups since February.

The Monmouth University Poll also finds the ratings for New Jersey’s senior U.S. senator, Bob Menendez, continue to be negative. They currently stand at 36% approve and 43% disapprove among all New Jerseyans, and 37% approve and 45% disapprove among registered voters.  This is not significantly different from the 40% approve to 45% disapprove voter rating Menendez received in February.  However, the 2019 trend is a marked change from the senator’s ratings in Monmouth polls taken over the prior ten years, all of which were either positive or evenly divided. For example, Menendez received a split 37% approve and 38% disapprove voter rating in April 2018, and a positive 41% approve and 35% disapprove rating in July 2017.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from September 12 to 16, 2019 with 713 New Jersey adults, which has a +/- 3.7 percentage point sampling margin of error.  Some results in this release are based on 325 registered voters who identify as Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party and have a margin of error of +/- 5.4 percentage points.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS                                                                        

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

[Q1 & Q4 held for future release.]

[Q2-3 previously released.]

[QUESTIONS 5 & 6 WERE ROTATED]

5. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Bob Menendez is doing as United States Senator?

 All adults Sept.
2019
Approve 36%
Disapprove 43%
(VOL) Don’t know 21%
   (n) (713)
TREND:
Registered voters
Sept.
2019
Feb.
2019
April
2018
July
2017
May
2016
July
2015
May
2015
Feb.
2015
Sept.
2014
June
2014
April
2014
Feb.
2014
Dec.
2013
April
2013
Feb.
2013
 Approve 37% 40% 37% 41% 41% 38% 42% 49% 45% 47% 51% 49% 47% 44% 41%
Disapprove 45% 45% 38% 35% 31% 38% 38% 27% 30% 34% 31% 30% 27% 38% 31%
(VOL) Don’t know 18% 15% 25% 23% 28% 23% 20% 24% 26% 19% 18% 21% 26% 18% 28%
   (n) (651) (549) (632) (758) (703) (453) (441) (712) (680) (717) (690) (690) (698) (694) (697)
TREND: Registered voters continued April
2012
Feb.
2012
Oct.
2011
Aug.
2011
May
2011
July
2010
Oct.
2008
April
2008
Jan.
2008
Approve 40% 41% 43% 38% 46% 38% 34% 41% 37%
Disapprove 25% 26% 29% 33% 28% 33% 25% 31% 25%
(VOL) Don’t know 35% 33% 28% 29% 26% 29% 41% 28% 37%
   (n) (692) (709) (693) (730) (725) (747) (900) (720) (698)

6. Do you approve or disapprove of the job Cory Booker is doing as United States Senator?

All adults Sept.
2019
Approve 45%
Disapprove 37%
(VOL) Don’t know 18%
   (n) (713)
TREND: Registered voters Sept. 2019 Feb. 2019 April
2018
July
2017
May
2016
July
2015
May
2015
Feb.
2015
Sept.
2014
June
2014
April
2014
Feb.
2014
Dec.
2013
Approve 45% 48% 54% 50% 53% 45% 51% 51% 42% 48% 47% 47% 37%
Disapprove 40% 38% 31% 31% 21% 24% 21% 21% 23% 25% 23% 20% 21%
(VOL) Don’t know 16% 14% 15% 20% 27% 31% 27% 27% 35% 27% 30% 32% 43%
   (n) (651) (549) (632) (758) (703) (453) (441) (712) (680) (717) (690) (690) (698)

[Q7-10 previously released.]

11. How much have you heard about the drinking water problem in the city of Newark – a lot, a little, or nothing at all?

  Sept.
2019
A lot 46%
A little 33%
Nothing at all 21%
   (n) (713)

11B. How much responsibility does Cory Booker have for this problem – a great deal, some, only a little, or none at all?

  Sept.
2019
A great deal 28%
Some 23%
Only a little 10%
None at all 10%
(VOL) Don’t know 8%
Not heard (from Q11) 21%
   (n) (713)

[Q12-16 held for future release.]

[Q17 WAS ASKED OF REGISTERED VOTERS WHO IDENTIFY AS DEMOCRATS OR LEAN TOWARD THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY; n= 325, moe= +/- 5.4%.]

17. I know the 2020 election is far away, but who would you support for the Democratic nomination for president if the candidates were the following? [INCLUDES LEANERS] [NAMES WERE ROTATED]

  (with leaners) Sept.
2019
Joe Biden 26%
Elizabeth Warren 20%
Bernie Sanders 18%
Cory Booker 9%
Pete Buttigieg 6%
Kamala Harris 6%
Tulsi Gabbard 2%
Bill de Blasio 1%
Amy Klobuchar 1%
Andrew Yang 1%
Michael Bennet <1%
Steve Bullock <1%
Julián Castro <1%
Beto O’Rourke <1%
Tim Ryan <1%
Tom Steyer <1%
Marianne Williamson <1%
John Delaney 0%
Joe Sestak 0%
(VOL) Other <1%
(VOL) No one 2%
(VOL) Undecided 8%
 (n) (325)

[Q18 WAS ASKED OF REGISTERED VOTERS WHO IDENTIFY AS DEMOCRATS OR LEAN TOWARD THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY; n= 325, moe= +/-5.4%.]

18. I’m going to read you the names of some people who are running for president in 2020.  Please tell me if your general impression of each is favorable or unfavorable, or if you don’t really have an opinion. If you have not heard of the person, just let me know. [NAMES WERE ROTATED]

  Democratic voters only:  

Favor-able Unfavor-able No opinion Not heard of (n)
Former Vice President Joe Biden 64% 23% 11% 1% (325)
           
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders 63% 25% 11% 1% (325)
           
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren 59% 17% 17% 7% (325)
           
California Senator Kamala Harris 43% 22% 26% 9% (325)
           
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg 40% 13% 31% 16% (325)
           
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker 60% 24% 16% 0% (325)
           

ASKED OF EVERYONE:

19. Do you think Cory Booker would or would not make a good president?

 TREND: Sept.
2019
Feb.
2019
Would 29% 37%
Would not  52% 42%
(VOL) Don’t know 19% 21%
   (n) (713) (604)

20. If he does not win the nomination, do you think Cory Booker would or would not make a good running mate for vice president?

  Sept.
2019
Would 48%
Would not  39%
(VOL) Don’t know 13%
   (n) (713)

21. Booker is up for reelection to the Senate in 2020. If he wins the Democratic nomination for either president or vice president, do you think he should run for Senate as well or just run for president or vice president?

 TREND Sept.
2019
Feb.
2019*
Run for Senate as well 29% 21%
Just run for president or vice president 49% 66%
(VOL) Don’t know 22% 13%
   (n) (713) (604)

    *Feb ’19 Question did not include the nomination for vice president

[Q22-41 held for future release.]

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from September 12 to 16, 2019 with a random sample of 713 New Jersey adults age 18 and older, in English. This includes 359 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 354 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone. Telephone numbers were selected through random digit dialing and landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. Final sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information. Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and Dynata (RDD sample). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)
Registered Voters
20% Republican
45% Independent
35% Democrat
 
48% Male
52% Female
 
29% 18-34
36% 35-54
35% 55+
 
59% White
13% Black
17% Hispanic
11% Asian/Other
 
64% No degree
36% 4 year degree
 
 

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and crosstabs by key demographic groups.

Download this Poll Report with crosstabs