Gov. Phil Murphy has a 9-point lead over Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli, according to a poll released this morning by the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University.
The poll gives Murphy a 50%-41% lead over Ciattarelli and is the first independent poll in which the incumbent Democratic governor does not have a double-digit lead. The Monmouth University Polling Institute, widely viewed as the gold standard for polling in New Jersey, had Murphy up 16 points in August and 13 points in September.
This is also the first poll to include only likely voters in their sample.
The Stockton poll has Murphy’s job approval ratings at 54%-41%, with favorables of 50%-43%. A majority of voters, 50%-34%, had more confidence in Murphy’s ability to manage the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic than Ciattarelli.
More likely voters think Ciattarelli would be better than Murphy on taxes, 46%-38%, but voters are tied on who would best manage the state’s economy: 43% said Ciattarelli and 42% picked Murphy.
Ciattarelli is still struggling to be recognized by New Jersey voters, with 45% of New Jerseyans still unfamiliar with him.
“As a clean slate to many, Ciattarelli has the chance to tell his story and introduce himself to voters,” said John Froonjian, the director of the Hughes Center. “The Murphy campaign will likely try to define him first in negative terms.”
The Hughes Center did not make cross tabs for the polling publicly available.
According to the Stockton poll, voters support a school mask mandate by a 58%-37% margin and a requirement that employers with over 100 employees require Covid vaccinations or weekly testing by a 56%-44% margin. Nearly two-in-three voters (63%) back required vaccinations for health care workers.
But more New Jerseyans oppose than support a mandate to show proof of vaccination to enter restaurants, public events and entertainment venues: 46% support, 50% oppose.
An October 2017 Stockton poll came close to predicting the actual outcome of the last gubernatorial election. The poll gave Murphy an 18-point lead over Republican Kim Guadagno, 51%-33%. Murphy won that race by 14 points, 56%-42%.
The poll was conducted between September 17-25 with a sample of 552 likely voters and a margin of error of +/- 4.1%.