Gov. Phil Murphy has an 11-point lead over Republican Jack Ciattarelli in next week’s race for Governor of New Jersey, 50%-39%, even with Covid dropping to fourth on the list of issues New Jersey registered voters care most about and despite President Joe Biden scoring upside-down approval ratings in a blue state, according to a Monmouth University poll released on Wednesday.
But some electorate scenarios played out in Monmouth poll also puts the race at anywhere between 7 and 14 points, depending on the scenario. Murphy has a 63%-26% lead among New Jerseyans who have already voted or intend to vote early, but Ciattarelli had a lead, depending on the turnout scenario, of between 5 to 12 points among Election Day voters.
“We’ve had a couple of debates and a slew of advertising since the last Monmouth poll,” said Patrick Murray, the Monmouth University Polling Institute director. Ciattarelli has chipped away at Murphy’s lead but hasn’t delivered the knockout he needs.”
Murphy’s favorables remain high, 45%-37%, and he has maintained a 52%-39% job approval rating – about the same as where he’s been since August.
Ciattarelli has also become better known and heads into Election Day with favorables of 37%-25%. But with New Jerseyans already voting and just six days left, 39% of the state still has no opinion on the Republican gubernatorial nominee.
Perhaps the biggest news is that the Covid has lost its first place standing as the top issue for New Jersey voters. It’s now eclipsed by taxes (27%), jobs and the economy (20%), and education and schools (16%), with the pandemic at 15%.
That could be the silver lining for Ciattarelli: the former GOP assemblyman from Somerset County has a 10-point lead on which candidate voters trust more on taxes, 39%-29%, but that may not be enough.
On whom they trust most on jobs and the economy, the two candidates are statistically tied: Murphy 34%, Ciattarelli 33%. Voters trust Murphy most on handling issues related to the Covid pandemic: 45%-26%.
By a 42%-27% margin, voters trust Murphy more on education and schools,
“Ciattarelli’s attack on Murphy as being out of touch on taxes has resonated with some voters, but not enough to change the overall issue picture for this campaign. Even though concerns about the pandemic have lessened, the shift toward education policy basically produces the same benefit for Murphy,” Murray stated. He is viewed as the better candidate on both issues.”
Biden’s approvals are under water in New Jersey: 43%-49%. He’s at 58%-32% among independents and is at 57%-38% in South Jersey.
In a state with one million more Democrats than Republicans, 75% of Democrats are voting for Murphy and 16% for Ciattarelli. Among Republicans, Ciattarelli leads 75%-14%.
Among independent voters – once the mother’s milk of New Jersey elections but now second fiddle to Democrats — the state now has 180,000 more Democrats than unaffiliated voters – the race is statistically tied: Ciattarelli 41%, Murphy 40%.
“Even if we figure in potential error margins for these partisan group results, Ciattarelli cannot win this race based on registered Republicans and unaffiliated voters alone,” Murphy said. “That outcome would require a pretty sizable collapse of Democratic turnout.”
Murphy has an 83%-6% lead among Black voters, and is ahead, 63%-22%, among Hispanic, Asian and other minority voters.
As of Tuesday, 443,287 New Jerseyans had already cast their ballots – 52,445 of them using the state’s new early voting system that has polling locations in every county open for nine days through Halloween.
More voters (33%) think Murphy’s political views are in line with the state, while 24% says he’s out of step. Ciattarelli is just slightly in the opposite direction.
Murphy leads among women, 57%-32%, and among college graduates, 56%-35%. He’s also in front, 46%-42%, among voters with no college degree.
Ciattarelli is ahead, 46%-42%, among men.
Murphy has a 21-point lead in North Jersey (55%-34%) and is 11 points ahead of Ciattarelli in Central Jersey (50%-39%), but Ciattarelli is in front in South Jersey by 6 points (46%-40%).
The Monmouth poll is considered the gold standard of New Jersey independent polling and has been essentially accurate in the last four governor’s races, starting in 2005.
This will be the last Monmouth poll for this year’s gubernatorial race. At least one more poll is expected: Rutgers-Eagleton is in the field now and will release results no later than Friday.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted from October 21-25 with a sample size of 1,000 New Jersey registered voters and a margin of error of +/- 3.1%.MonmouthPoll_NJ_102721