The race for governor of New Jersey has narrowed just slightly over the last month, but Gov. Phil Murphy still holds a significant 13-point lead over Republican Jack Ciattarelli, 51%-38%, new Monmouth University Poll of registered voters released Wednesday morning shows.
Murphy had led Ciattarelli by 16 points, 52%-36%, in an August Monmouth poll.
“September shifts are not unheard of in New Jersey elections, and we see some potential for a single-digit race in these results,” said Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “But we don’t really see movement in the underlying dynamics of this campaign, despite a stream of advertising from both sides.”
Ciattarelli, who launched his TV ads on August 15, has become better known to New Jersey voters, but remains largely unrecognized by half (50%) of the state. He has favorables of 31%-19%, up from 26%-23% in August when 61% of New Jerseyans were unfamiliar with him.
Murphy’s favorables are at 48%-37%. He was at 48%-33% in August and 50%-36% in May. He began airing TV ads last week.
A former three-term assemblyman from Somerset County, Ciattarelli remains unknown to 52% of independents, 27% of Republicans, and 40% of White voters.
But the poll also indicates that Murphy’s lead could be as low as 9 points (50%-41%) or as high as 14 points (52%-38%) based on different turnout models for the November. These scenarios, the poll notes are the “extreme ends” of the ranges.
Among high-frequency voters – those who have voted in all four of the general elections since 2016 – Murphy’s lead drops to just 7 points, 50%-43%, but the pollster says this group represents just one-third of New Jersey voters. Murphy is at 51%-40% among those who cast ballots in the 2017 general election.
In a state with 1,074,691 more Democrats than Republicans, 90% of Democrats are backing Murphy and 91% of Republicans are with Ciattarelli. Among independents, which represents about 36% of the electorate, Murphy has a narrower 44%-39% lead.
The poll shows Murphy with a 55%-34% lead in North Jersey, 52%-36% in Central Jersey, and 46%-45% in South Jersey, where two of the three most competitive state legislative races are.
Murphy has a large lead among women (58%-32%) but is statistically tied among men (45%-44%). The Democratic governor has a lopsided lead, 87%-4%, among Black voters, and a 64%-24% lead among Hispanic and Asian voters. Among White voters, Ciattarelli leads by 7 points, 49%-42%.
Electorally, Murphy does best among the state’s youngest and oldest voters. He’s got a 63%-28% lead among voters between the ages of 18 and is ahead 53%-37% among voters who are 65 and older. Murphy is up 7 points (48%-41%) over Ciattarelli among voters ages 35 to 49, but the two candidates are tied at 44% among voters between the ages of 50 and 64.
Among White voters with no college degree, Ciattarelli has an enormous 56%-36% lead, but Murphy is ahead, 51%-38%, among White voters with a four-year degree. Voters from communities of color with no degree give Murphy a 69%-16% lead; that jumps to 75%-18% among those with a four-year degree.
Murphy’s favorables are at 82%-5% among Democrats, while Ciattarelli is at 73%-1% among Republicans.
If Murphy wins, he will become the first Democratic governor to win re-election in 44 years. Since Brendan Byrne scored a second term in 1977, New Jersey has elected and re-elected three Republican governors. Democrats last won two consecutive gubernatorial elections in 2005, following victories by James E. McGreevey and then Jon Corzine.
The Monmouth University Polling Institute was in the field from September 16-20 with a sample size of 804 New Jersey voters and a margin of error of +/- 3.5%.MonmouthPoll_NJ_092221_Redacted