Here’s the good news for Jack Ciattarelli, the Republican candidate for governor: Only 14% of the electorate views him unfavorably.
The bad news? Approximately 70% of the electorate essentially has never heard of him.
In the first public poll since the primaries, the FDU Poll clearly showed how little name recognition Ciattarelli has among voters. In fact, Ciattarelli is doing no better in the polls among registered voters than an unnamed, generic Republican candidate.
Murphy, the poll shows, has the same 48-32% lead over Ciattarelli has does an unnamed candidate.
Dan Cassino, a professor of government and politics at Fairleigh Dickinson University and the executive director of the poll, said the poll shows Ciattarelli has big challenges ahead.
“Ciattarelli has his work cut out for him,” Cassino said. “Being unknown is better than being disliked, but running ads in New Jersey to build up awareness is an expensive proposition.”
And, while the poll shows Ciattarelli has stronger name recognition among Republicans, more than half of those in his own party say they don’t know the candidate, as 35% said they have a favorable view, but 57% said that they don’t have an opinion.
Many view the race as a referendum on Murphy. At this point, the governor is passing the test. Approximately 50% — including 81% of Democrats and 11% of Republicans — said they approve of the job he’s doing, compared with 39% saying they disapprove. These numbers are higher than they were before the pandemic: In a February 2020 poll of New Jersey adults, just 42% approved of the job Murphy was doing.
Similarly, most voters in New Jersey think that the state is on the right track: 50% of registered voters, including 81% of Democrats, said so. 40% of voters — including 82% of Republicans — said the state is on the wrong track.
Those numbers may play bigger than they are, since the state has approximately 1 million more registered Democrats than Republicans.
“Democrats have a significant edge in New Jersey,” said Cassino. “So, in order to win statewide, Republican candidates need to outperform a generic candidate, and so far, Ciattarelli just isn’t doing that.”
Methodology: The survey was conducted between June 9-16, using a certified list of registered voters in New Jersey. Voters were randomly chosen from the list and contacted in one of two ways. Three-quarters of the respondents (608) received an invitation through SMS (text) to fill out the survey online, via a provided link. The other quarter of respondents (193) were contacted via telephone, using the same registered voter list. The survey covers 803 registered voters in New Jersey, ages 18 and older, and was conducted entirely in English. The survey was carried out by Braun Research Inc. of Princeton. Of the interviews, 123 were conducted over landlines, the remainder via cell phones.