A new poll released today by Monmouth University shows Gov. Phil Murphy retaining a strong lead over Republican nominee Jack Ciattarelli, but voters have nuanced perspectives on the two candidate’s stances on different issues.
Asked who they trusted more to handle the ongoing Covid pandemic, respondents overwhelmingly chose Murphy by a 50-23% margin, with 17% saying they trust both equally. Ciattarelli has worked for months to paint Murphy’s masking policies and vaccine mandates in an unfavorable light, but respondents of all demographics continue to put their trust in Murphy.
Murphy was also trusted more on the issue of jobs and the economy, 39-32%.
Ciattarelli was viewed more favorably, meanwhile, on the issue of taxation. 39% of respondents said they trust Ciattarelli more on taxes, versus 33% who said they trust Murphy more; another 17% said they trusted both equally. The state’s relatively high tax rates have been another frequent Ciattarelli campaign message, one that evidently has landed better with voters.
On the issues of crime and small business, respondents were split approximately evenly. Murphy was trusted more on crime 32-30%, while Ciattarelli was trusted more on small businesses 36-34%.
Finally, respondents resoundingly said they trusted Murphy more on “making sure women are treated with respect,” besting Ciattarelli 40-17%. Ciattarelli and especially his running mate, former State Sen. Diane Allen, have hammered Murphy on the issue of sexual assault, but the attacks have apparently not resonated.
The poll did not ask about abortion, which Murphy has brought into the limelight as a major campaign issue in recent weeks.
Of the three questions that were asked in Monmouth’s August poll – on Covid, jobs and the economy, and taxes – none experienced massive shifts in the past month, though Ciattarelli’s strength on taxes improved somewhat from a 30-29% advantage to a 39-33% one.
“There have been some small shifts on issue advantages but nothing that has upset the underlying dynamic,” said Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “Murphy retains a large edge on dealing with the pandemic. Ciattarelli’s ads have hit Murphy on taxes, small businesses, and even on the incumbent’s treatment of women, but the needle has not moved that much.”
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%.