Gov. Phil Murphy has a 15-point lead, 48%-33%, over Republican Jack Ciattarelli in the first post-primary head-to-head matchup in the New Jersey Governor’s race, according to a poll released on Monday by Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Murphy has a job approval of 50%-39%, which is lower than pre-primary polls conducted by Monmouth University and Rutgers-Eagleton. A Rutgers-Eagleton poll conducted before the primary and released on June 8 showed Murphy with a 26-point lead over Ciattarelli.
Ciattarelli has favorables of 16%-14%, with 53% of New Jersey voters having no opinion of him. Another 17% have never heard of the former assemblyman from Somerset County.
“Ciattarelli has his work cut out for him,” said Dan Cassino, a professor of Government and Politics at Fairleigh Dickinson University and the poll’s executive director. “Being unknown is better than being disliked but running ads in New Jersey to build up awareness is an expensive proposition.”
Among suburban voters – those who are integral to any path to a Republican victory in November – Murphy leads 47%-34%. The incumbent has a 48.5% -20% lead among urban voters and a 48%-31% among those from rural parts of the state.
Independents are backing Ciattarelli by a 28%-23% margin, the FDU poll shows.
The two candidates are statistically tied among men (Murphy 39%, Ciattarelli 37%), but Murphy has a 54%-27% lead among women.
Less than two weeks after the Republican primary, the FDU poll shows Ciattarelli has favorables of 35%-8% among GOP voters. Ciattarelli does the same whether his name was mentioned as Murphy’s opponent or not. While 7% of Republicans say they’ll vote for Murphy, 4% of Democrats plan to support Ciattarelli.
Murphy’s approvals are at 81%-9% among Democrats, but he’s upside down among independents (36%-41%) and Republicans (11%-82%). Ciattarelli is also upside down among independents (8%-12%), and Democrats (4%-20%), although most are unfamiliar with the GOP gubernatorial nominee.
The Fairleigh Dickinson poll asked voters how New Jersey should treat former President Donald Trump as he summers at the Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster. About one-third (32%) said Trump should be welcomed, 42% say he ought to be left alone or ignored, and 24% want the ex-President to be discouraged from coming to New Jersey.
Among Republicans, 70% said welcomed and 24% indicated a preference of leaving him alone or ignoring him. That number was 24%-42% among independents and 6%-55% among Democrats. More than one-quarter of independents (26%) say Trump should be discouraged from coming to New Jersey, along with 37% of Democrats.
“Trump remains popular among Republicans in New Jersey,” said Cassino. “But, as in past elections, Trump doesn’t seem to have coattails: bringing him into an election doesn’t help the other Republicans on the line at all.”
According to the FDU poll, readying voters to think about Trump’s summer residency in New Jersey didn’t substantially affect support for Ciattarelli.
When the pollster asked about Trump before testing the two gubernatorial candidate head-to-head, Murphy’s lead was 45%-33%. But when they were not asked first, Murphys’ lead was actually better: 52%-33%. Democrats and Independents – not Republicans – were less likely to back Murphy when they were reminded of Trump. Those voters, the poll said, didn’t switch to Ciattarelli; instead, they were more likely to say “didn’t know” or decline to answer.
Half of the poll respondents were randomly asked to choose between Murphy and Ciattarelli, or Murphy and a Republican. The results were identical.
“Democrats have a significant edge in New Jersey,” Cassino said. “So, in order to win statewide, Republican candidates need to outperform a generic candidate, and so far, Ciattarelli just isn’t doing that.”
Fairleigh Dickinson University polled 803 registered voters between June 9-16 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.94%. The poll used registered voters, which is between likely voters and data compiled from residents.