Is Menendez an Incumbent?

The real fly in the ointment for the Democrats this cycle has been New Jersey, which really ought to have been a safe Democratic hold. Instead, the NJ Democrats’ reputation for corruption, combined with problems with Bob Menendez as a candidate, and warm fuzzies for Tom Keane’s dad, have made it a very tight race. The latest poll has Keane at 39 percent and Menendez at 42 percent. Menendez’ narrow lead at a low level raises the question of whether or not we should think of him as an incumbent. Technically, he is, and normally an incumbent polling at 43 percent three weeks before an election is toast, lead or no lead. But Menendez has been in that seat less than a year, and lacks statewide name recognition, so maybe it’s more like an open seat in which case he seems to be doing okay.