U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) beats potential Republican challenger John Crowley, by 45 percent to 26 percent in a hypothetical matchup, according to a Fairleigh Dickinson University poll released today.

But Menendez continues to suffer from low name recognition, and voters know even less about Crowley, who has yet to declare his candidacy.

About half of the voters polled have not heard of Menendez or have no opinion. Polling director Peter Woolley noted that Menendez recently has improved his low profile, particularly among members of his own party.

Crowley, a biotech executive from Princeton, has flirted with running for Senate but has made no definitive plans. Ultimately, Gov. Christie would have the most influence on naming the Republican challenger.

Menendez, a former congressman, was first elected in 2006. He faces re-election in 2012, the same year President Obama will lead the ballot.

The poll of 804 registered voters was conducted between May 16 and May 22 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.