New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy holds a sizeable lead over his virtually unknown Republican opponent, according to a poll released on Monday by Fairleigh Dickinson University.
In the survey, Murphy leads former state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli by a 48% to 33% margin.
Earlier this month Ciattarelli won the Republican nomination over three other candidates with about half the vote, but he faces a difficult challenge this November to defeat Murphy, who won election in 2017 with 56% of the vote.
Even after winning the GOP nomination, Ciattarelli remains unknowm to most voters, with 70% saying that they don’t know enough about him to have an opinion at all and 17% saying that they have never heard of him.
“Ciatterelli has his work cut out for him,” said Dan Cassino, a professor of Government and Politics at Fairleigh Dickinson University and executive director of the poll. “Being unknown is better than being disliked, but running ads in New Jersey to build up awareness is an expensive proposition.”
Other results from the poll include:
- Fifty percent of voters approve of the job Murphy is doing as governor, with 39% saying that they disapprove.
- While Murphy holds only a slim lead (39% to 37%) among men, he has a 54% to 27% advantage among women voters.
- Both candidates have overwhelming support among voters from their own party, but Ciatterelli has a 28% to 23% advantage among independents. Almost half (48%) of independents say they either support someone else or do not know who they will vote for in the election.
New Jersey is one of only two states, along with Virginia, that chooses governors in the year after a presidential election, The Hill reported.
In recent years, a pattern has developed in which the president’s party has lost the governor’s election in the state:
Murphy won a year after Donald Trump captured the White House, while Republican Chris Christie won election twice in the years after Barack Obama won the presidency and easily carried New Jersey’s electoral votes.
Democrats Jim McGreevey and Jon Corzine won the governorship during George W. Bush’s two terms in office, and Republican Christine Todd Whitman was governor the office during the Clinton administration.
The survey was conducted between June 9 and June 16 using a certified list of registered voters in New Jersey. The simple sampling error for 803 registered voters in New Jersey is +/-3.46 percentage points, at a 95% confidence interval.
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