While the New Jersey gubernatorial race between incumbent Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy and Republican Jack Ciattarelli remains too close to call, early morning tallies have come in to put Murphy into a narrow lead, according to reports.
Newsmax partner Decision Desk HQ had Murphy overtaking Ciattarelli by a mere handful of votes and estimated 87% of votes having been reported. Murphy's lead has slowly widened with more than an estimated 90% of the vote reported.
The Associated Press ballot results are updating in real time here.
There is some drama underlying the reporting of votes, according to Newsmax host Shaun Kraisman and Decision Desk HQ.
"Hudson County revised down vote totals which caused a lead change," Kraisman tweeted, noting a temporary lead being flipped to Ciattarelli.
The race is within a few hundred votes either way as a protracted election battle might loom for days, as final mail-in tallies among potentially 400,000 ballots are reportedly going to be accepted until Monday, Nov. 8, sources told Newsmax's Tom Basile on Tuesday night.
"The Murphy campaign expects to pull it out given where some outstanding ballots and [mail-in ballots] are," Republican political strategist Mike DuHaime wrote in an email to the Washington Examiner. "Jack's campaign still think there's a path."
If the final margin is within 15,000 votes, there could be a recount, DuHaime told the Examiner.
Merely a close race in historically blue New Jersey is being hailed by Republican strategists. Registered Democrat voters outnumber Republicans there by more than 1 million.
At 12:30 a.m. ET on election night, Ciattarelli said he could not yet declare a victory because votes remained to be counted, but said he fully expected to make a victory declaration once that happens.
"We've sent a message to the entire nation," he told his campaign headquarters crowd. "This is what I love about this state: Every single time it's gone too far off track, the people of this state have pushed, pulled and prodded it right back to where it needs to be."
Newsmax in consultation with partner Decision Desk HQ correctly called the Virginia gubernatorial race for GOP candidate Glenn Youngkin almost four hours before CNN, Fox News, and other liberal media outlets Tuesday night.
Political strategist Dick Morris noted the hours of wait show the implicit bias of legacy broadcast media compared to Newsmax, resistant to declaring an early victory for a Republican in a blue state.
"We are going to wait for every vote to be counted, and that's how Democracy works," Murphy told supporters on Newsmax after midnight, declining to make a concession or a declaration of victory.
Ciattarelli then took the stage and made a pointed declaration of counting every "legal vote."
"I wanted to come out here tonight because I prepared one hell of a victory speech," Ciattarelli told his supporters. "I'm here to tell you we're winning. We're winning. We want every legal vote counted. We have to have time to make sure every legal vote is counted."
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