Bhalla internal poll shows him ‘statistically tied’ with Rep. Menendez in 8th District


An internal poll conducted by the 8th District congressional campaign of Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla says he is “statistically tied” with U.S. Rep. Rob Menendez, within the margin of error trailing slightly 44 to 41, with 15 percent of respondents undecided.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

The poll was conducted by Washington, D.C.-based GQR, with 403 likely Democratic voters surveyed. This differed from the internal poll from the Menendez campaign, which had him leading Bhalla by 22 points after surveying 400 registered Democratic voters.

Bhalla’s poll also shows Menendez has 87 percent name recognition, with an approval rating of 35 percent favorable and 41 percent unfavorable.

“We have two competing surveys with an important methodological difference. The Menendez survey was conducted among registered Democratic voters – not among voters with a history of voting in the Democratic primary,” GQR Senior Partner Anna Greenberg wrote in a polling memo.

“Even with a competitive Senate primary on the ballot, it is implausible that 100 percent of registered Democrats will participate in this primary. Why does this matter? Registered voters are less informed and less engaged than primary voters; not only would they be less familiar with Bhalla, they would also be less conversant with charges against Bob Menendez. Our poll shows that the most reliable Democratic primary voters are the most hostile to Rob Menendez.”

Expectedly, the Mile Square City mayor’s poll pushes back against the notion that three out of four primary voters do not consider the corruption charges against U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Rob’s father, to be a significant issue.

Out of the 403 respondents, Senator Menendez’s favorability was underwater: 27 percent favorable and 60 percent unfavorable, while 73 percent believe he is “guilty of bribery and serving the interests of foreign governments.”

Additionally, 64 percent indicated that “it is time for new leadership in Congress.”

“In contrast, Bhalla has room to grow. His name identification stands at 43 percent and voters view him positively, 25 percent favorable versus 8 percent unfavorable. In Hoboken and neighboring Jersey City and Bayonne where voters know him best, his name identification is 54 percent with 37 percent favorable, 8 percent unfavorable,” Greenberg also wrote.

“After voters hear positive information about both candidates, Bhalla vaults into the lead garnering 59 percent of the vote to Menendez’s 33 percent. The fact that Bhalla is outraising Menendez means he will have the resources to introduce himself to the rest of the district on his own terms.”

Bhalla has been a game opponent thus far leading up to the June 4th primary, out raising the incumbent by six figures in the fourth quarter of last year, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) reports.

Ben Lazarus, of TargetSmart – who conducted the Rep. Menendez poll – clarified that while they surveyed registered Democrats, those were also likely primary voters.

“Our Menendez for Congress poll was conducted among registered Democrats in the Eighth Congressional District who were then screened for their likelihood to vote in the primary and weighted to be representative of a likely Democratic primary electorate. It is completely inaccurate to deride our poll as not being representative of likely primary voters,” he said.

“In fact, our research and modeling suggests that the more likely a voter is to participate in the primary, the more likely they are to support Congressman Menendez. Furthermore, given the Eighth is a heavily Hispanic district, our campaign went out of its way to invest in a culturally appropriate, bilingual, language of choice polling methodology, a design that ensured primary voters who predominantly speak Spanish were able to participate in the survey.”


Editor’s note: This story was updated with a comment from TargetSmart’s Ben Lazarus.

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  1. I have no idea where this race actually stands, but Ravi Bhalla’s poll results are nonsense on their face.

    The poll has him with 41% of the vote when only 43% of the voters have even heard of him and only 25% view him favorably. This is absurd on its face. As is the idea that only 15% are undecided at this stage. Most voters – even likely voters – don’t even know this election will be on the ballot yet.

    This is a press release not a poll and this kind of obvious crap gives a bad name to the whole industry.

    • Yeah – I noticed those inconsistencies too. This “poll” is an insult to everybody who understands how to read a poll. Plus the comment from Ravi’s DC based pollster about Ravi being strongest with those most likely to vote is an insult to anybody with even a passing familiarity with Hudson County and 8th district politics. This is why you have to be pretty stupid to take publicly released internal polls seriously. All these fake polls really tell us is that Ravi wants the world to think the race is a lot closer than it really is and Rob M wants the world to think it’s game over.

    • Things are pretty good in Hoboken, actually, Do you even live here? I have, for over 40 years. I think I know what I’m talking about. Do you?

      BTW, I’m neither pro or anti Bhalla. Might vote for him, might not. Just wanted to call you out on your nonsense.

        • We live in an urban environment, spitting distance from NYC and even closer to JC. You know perfectly well things like that are extremely rare, and also happened during the best of times. If you’re such a beta snowflake, maybe you should move to a gated community in Florida, the Villages might be more your speed.

      • Not thrilled abt leaving Hoboken for DC but rather have someone looking out for Hoboken in Congress than Son of Gold bars Bob. Don’t think he’s got much of a chance but I’ll vote for him.

  2. Ravi is only down about 2-1 against Robert Menendez.

    But a Horowitz poll on Ravi’s block in Hoboken saw him as the best candidate scoring particularly high on the northeastern side of the block 63% against 32% among those who prefer a Terror Flier to appear against the incumbent Congressman.