Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno has gained some momentum in the gubernatorial race, but Democrat Phil Murphy still maintains a double-digit lead, according to a Stockton University poll released Thursday.
Less than two weeks before the Nov. 7 election, Murphy leads by a 51-37 percent margin, with 8 percent undecided or not identifying a choice and 4 percent saying they will vote for someone else.
Murphy led 51-33 percent in a poll two weeks ago.
The Stockton Polling Institute of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy interviewed 525 likely voters, and the poll has a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points.
“Kim Guadagno’s numbers are going in the right direction,” said Sharon Schulman, executive director of the Hughes Center in Galloway Township. “But, at this point, it appears she would have to claim virtually all of the undecided vote and some of Murphy’s votes to make the race competitive.”
Murphy’s favorable rating has increased, going from a 36-26 percent favorable to unfavorable split on Oct. 13 to 43-30 percent in the latest poll.
Guadagno went the other way, with 37 percent unfavorable in the earlier poll and 43 percent negative in the latest one. Her favorable rating has stayed about the same: 31 percent on Oct. 13, and 32 percent now.
Respondents give Murphy, a former Wall Street banker and ambassador, the edge when asked who would be better at creating jobs in New Jersey, at managing the state budget and at helping Atlantic City succeed.
However, Guadagno is seen as more likely to control property taxes than Murphy, at 39 percent to 33 percent.
Only 2 percent identified immigration issues as a top priority in the poll. The poll was conducted after Guadagno began attacking Murphy for saying he might make New Jersey a sanctuary state if the federal government revoked protection for “dreamers” brought to the United States as children. However, the sanctuary state issue sparks strong feelings among both parties’ bases.
When asked how Murphy’s stance on sanctuary status might affect their vote, 64 percent of Democrats say it makes them more likely to vote for him, compared with only 6 percent of Republicans. Fifty-four percent of Republicans say it makes them less likely to vote for Murphy, compared with 8 percent of Democrats. Overall, 40 percent say the issue makes them more supportive of Murphy, with 33 percent saying they are less likely to support him and 24 percent saying it makes no difference.
Seeming to illustrate the negative effect Gov. Chris Christie has on Guadagno’s campaign, the Oct. 13 poll had 31 percent saying her experience as “New Jersey’s lieutenant governor” made them less likely to vote for her. In the new poll, the wording was changed to “Gov. Chris Christie’s lieutenant governor,” and the less likely responses jumped to 47 percent.
The poll finds overwhelming support for a proposed state constitutional amendment to dedicate funds from settlements of state pollution cases to environmental restoration or protection, with 87 percent favoring to 9 percent opposed. Also, a ballot question asking whether to borrow $125 million for public library construction and renovation is supported 56 percent to 39 percent.
Hughes Center researcher John Froonjian, who manages the Stockton Polling Institute, said that past Stockton polls have overestimated support for ballot questions. This may be because significant numbers of voters stop voting as they go further down the ballot, or they may miss the questions. The population that actually votes may be different than the sample measured in the poll, Froonjian said.
For complete poll results, click here.