updated 10/30/2006 1:50:32 PM ET 2006-10-30T18:50:32

Sen. Robert Menendez holds a slight lead over Republican Tom Kean Jr. in their New Jersey Senate race with just over a week left before election day, a poll published Sunday found.

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Democrat Menendez leads Kean 48-42 percent, according to a poll of 600 likely voters published Sunday in The Record of Bergen County.

Thirty percent of voters said the Iraq war was the most important issue in deciding their vote. Voters also want to see Democrats rather than Republicans control Congress, 53-35 percent.

President Bush remains unpopular, with only 37 percent saying he was doing an excellent or good job. Menendez's campaign strategy has been dominated by efforts to tie Kean to Bush administration policies, while Kean has painted Menendez as a corrupt politician.

"Any other political year, I think the Republicans win that seat," said pollster Del Ali of Research 2000, the Rockville, Md., firm that conducted the survey. "The only thing saving Menendez is the climate out there."

2006 key races

The poll said voters found Kean more trustworthy by a 49-36 percent ratio, and they personally like him more than Menendez, 48-33 percent. But of those voters who consider Kean more trustworthy, 35 percent are voting for Menendez because they feel other factors, such as the war in Iraq and putting Democrats back in control of Congress, are more important.

The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points. It was conducted by phone Oct. 23-25.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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