Home>Campaigns>Poll shows close race between Ciattarelli, Singh for GOP gubernatorial nomination

Republican gubernatorial candidates Jack Ciattarelli, left, and Hirsh Singh debate on New Jersey 101.5 on May 25, 2021. (Photo; Facebook/NJ Globe.)

Poll shows close race between Ciattarelli, Singh for GOP gubernatorial nomination

PPP survey shows 6-point race with huge undecided vote in contest bring driven by Trump loyalty

By David Wildstein, May 26 2021 1:04 pm

Jack Ciattarelli holds a six point lead, 29%-23%, over Hirsh Singh in the race for the Republican nomination for Governor with 38% of likely Republican primary voters still undecided, according to a Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey conducted for the Democratic Governors Association and reviewed by the New Jersey Globe.

With thirteen days left until the June 8 primary election, Hudson County pastor Phil Rizzo is at 8% and former Franklin Mayor Brian D. Levine is at 2% and neither appears to be viable candidates.

The poll indicates that Ciattarelli, who became the presumptive nominee in January after former GOP State Chairman Doug Steinhardt withdrew from the race, has not yet locked up the Republican nomination.

But the poll also does not take into consideration the power of organization lines.  Ciattarelli has the support of all 21 county Republican organizations –and with it, preferential ballot placement.

Singh, a perennial candidate making his fifth bid for public office in four years, higher favorables of 35%-18% — better than Ciattarelli, a former three-term assemblyman who is at 30%-15%.

Donald Trump appears to be driving the race for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in New Jersey.  The former president has favorables of 85%-8% among Republicans in the Garden State, and 81% of Republicans likely to vote in the upcoming primary want a candidate who embraces Trump’s agenda.

Among Republicans who say they’ll vote on June 8: 73% agreed that the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 was a false flag operation organized by groups opposed to Trump; 71%  don’t believe Joe Biden was the legitimate winner of the 2020 presidential election; and 69% say that the coronavirus pandemic was exaggerated by liberals seeking to undermine Trump’s presidency.

In the lone GOP gubernatorial debate last night, Ciattarelli acknowledged that Biden was the legitimate winner, while Singh tied himself to the former president and slammed Ciattarelli for calling Trump an embarrassment and a charlatan in 2016.

Singh also slapped the “corrupt left” of the Republican Party, mentioning Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) and U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah).

“This explains why Jack came right out of the gate against Singh last night,” said Micah Rasmussen, the director of the Rebovich Institute of New Jersey Politics at Rider University.  “His campaign must be seeing the same numbers, which show a generic MAGA approach is a viable strategy for a GOP primary anywhere in the country.”

The polling numbers appear to explain Ciattarelli’s decision go negative against Singh in TV and radio ads and on direct mail pieces in recent weeks.

“The Ciattarelli campaign can’t take anything for granted in the kind of low turnout situation where anything could happen, given the high number of undecideds,” said Rasmussen.  “Singh may not be the best candidate to have taken up the MAGA mantle, but for better or worse, he is the candidate in this field who has taken it up.”

The PPP poll has former Gov. Chris Christie with upside-down favorables among his home state Republicans, 37%-43%.   Those numbers differ from a Monmouth University poll released last week that put Christie at 53%-35% among Republican adults.

“As the New Jersey GOP implodes, Jack Ciattarelli and Hirsh Singh agreed on one thing: they’re more loyal to Trump than they are to the hard-working people of New Jersey,” said Christina Amestoy, a senior communications advisor at the DGA.  “The debate last night proved that neither candidate is qualified to govern the great state of New Jersey. Ciattarelli and Singh are divisive, lying, and they’ve repeatedly failed to denounce violent extremism. New Jerseyans deserve better.”

The winner of the primary will face Gov. Phil Murphy in the November general election.

The poll of 591 likely Republican primary votes was conducted May 24-25 and has a margin of error of +/- 4.1%.

Public Policy Polling is a Democratic firm and earned an A- rating from FiveThirtyEight, which grades on historical accuracy and methodology of political polling companies.  PPP accurately predicted the surge of GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin in Virginia earlier this month.

PPP NJ GOP Primary poll
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