Half the respondents were asked questions about President Bush and the Iraq War before being asked about their Senate preference. Menendez had a 2-point lead among those voters, while among those who were not made to think about Bush and Iraq Kean had an 11-point lead.
"At this point, it isn't Menendez standing between Kean and the Senate: it's Bush," said Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University. "Worse, Kean's attempts to distance himself from the president on Iraq don't seem to be making a difference -- this month is just as bad as last month."
Kean, the son and namesake of a popular former governor, appears to be one of the few Republicans with any chance of knocking off a Democratic incumbent in November. Menendez was named to fill Jon Corzine's unexpired term when Corzine was elected governor.
The last Republican to win a U.S. Senate race in New Jersey was Clifford Case in 1972.