Gov. Phil Murphy holds a 16-point lead over challenger Jack Ciattarelli as the gubernatorial election gets underway, according to a Monmouth University Poll released Wednesday.
The size of the lead was expected, as Murphy remains popular in what has become a left-leaning state.
Murphy also holds a solid edge in key areas: He has a sizable lead in Central Jersey — a region that has been a key to Republican electoral success in the past — and has a decided edge on the campaign’s top issue, the pandemic.
Few voters have formed an opinion of Ciattarelli, a former three-term state legislator, and still fewer have even heard of either candidate’s running mate for lieutenant governor.
Some of the polling numbers break down this way:
- Murphy has a 52%-36% lead among registered voters;
- Murphy holds a narrow edge (44%-38%) among voters who do not see themselves as aligned with either party;
- Murphy leads big in North Jersey (60%-29%) and Central Jersey (52%-38%);
- Ciattarelli leads in South Jersey (45%-40%);
- Murphy leads among voters of color (85%-5%);
- Ciiattarelli leads among white voters (49%-40%) but that comes largely from support of white voters without a bachelor’s degree. White college graduates prefer Murphy (48%-41%).
Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said the results show the struggle a Republican faces in the state.
“These results illustrate the challenge any Republican running in New Jersey would face this year,” he said. “One place to start is Central Jersey. Chris Christie won this region by 15 points when he narrowly ousted a Democratic incumbent in 2009, but it appears to be Murphy territory this time around.
“The key to GOP victory in the past has been winning over upper-income, moderate Republicans in Somerset County and working-class swing voters in Middlesex. Both these groups have swung decidedly toward the Democratic Party during the (President Donald) Trump era, and it doesn’t look like they are about to swing back any time soon — even for someone like Ciattarelli, who is one of their own.”
Monmouth Poll officials point out that electorate models for the 2021 election are not forecasts. They are designed to present a range of reasonable outcomes based on voter intentions at this moment.
Each registered voter is assigned a probabilistic weight between 0 and 1, based primarily on past voting history, with adjustments for self-reported likelihood to vote, motivation and other factors. Further adjustments are applied to the aggregate sample based on turnout propensities among different demographic groups (e.g. by race, gender or education).