FDU: Murphy Retains Lead, Builds Momentum Among Independents

Ciattarelli and Murphy backers both want full pension payments.

As the race for New Jersey governor goes into its final weekend, incumbent Democrat Phil Murphy maintains a nine point lead over his Republican challenger, Jack Ciattarelli, and has picked up momentum among independent voters. According to new survey results from the FDU Poll, the attacks on Murphy’s police reforms are effective, cutting Murphy’s lead significantly when voters are primed to think about them, but Ciattarelli is being held back by low name recognition.

Among all voters, Murphy retains a nine point lead over Ciattarelli going into the final days of the race, 53 to 44, with 3 percent of voters saying that they’ll vote for a third party candidate, or skip the governor’s race. Both candidates have managed to shore up their partisan bases, with Murphy getting 94 percent support among Democrats, and Ciattarelli getting 91 percent among Republicans. Among the smaller group of voters who do not lean towards either party, Ciattarelli has a significant lead, 56 to 39.

Ciattarelli’s strongest areas of support within the state come from the traditional Republican strongholds of the Atlantic coast counties, where he leads 60 to 38, and the northwest portion of the state, where he is up 62 to 38. Murphy is bolstered by large margins in the highly populated Urban Core region of the state, where he maintains a 40 point lead, 69 to 29.

“Both candidates are about where you’d expect a generic Republican and a generic Democrat to be,” said Dan Cassino, a professor of Government and Politics at Fairleigh Dickinson University and the Executive Director of the poll. “But to win in New Jersey, a Republican has to do much better than that.”

Candidates in contested elections often claim that the momentum of the race is on their side, so statistical analyses were used to look for any signs of momentum favoring one candidate or the other in the waning days of the campaign. The survey was designed to be carried out over a period of 6 days, finishing up on Thursday night. Because the characteristics of the sample differ by day, logit regression analyses were used to determine if, controlling for age, education, race/ethnicity, sex, priming condition and partisanship, voters were more likely to favor one candidate or the other in the interviews carried out later in the week, rather than earlier in the week.

The results show that, controlling for other factors, independent voters have become more likely to swing towards Murphy over the past week. While independent voters constitute a smaller portion of the electorate than partisans, they are considered key to both candidates’ chances of victory. On Monday, controlling for other factors, only 24 percent of independent voters said that they would support Murphy in the election, with the remainder going to Ciattarelli, or remaining undecided. By Thursday night, 54 percent of independents said that they would support Murphy, controlling for other demographic factors.

“It’s not impossible to close a nine point gap in the polls,” said Cassino. “But partisans are remaining stable, the independents are moving against Ciattarelli, with many people already having voted, it seems like it is too late to turn things around.”

The survey also included a series of questions about the police reforms that Ciattarelli has made a main topic in the race. New Jersey voters were asked about their support for four such policies, such as requiring departments to identify officers who have been disciplined and restricting what officers can do to minors in possession of alcohol or marijuana. To see if leading voters to think about these issues made any difference to their vote choice, half of respondents were asked about their vote choice before being asked about police reforms, and half were asked about the governor’s race only afterwards. If these issues make voters less likely to support Murphy, it would be expected that those who are asked how they’ll vote after hearing about the police reforms would be less likely to vote for Murphy than those who are asked about their vote choice first.

Leading voters to think about Murphy’s police reforms significantly reduced support for the incumbent. While voters in the standard condition favored Murphy by nine points, those who were primed to think about the police reforms only favored him by two points, 48 to 46, leading to what would be a dead heat. The biggest difference between the conditions came among independent voters: normally, Ciattarelli has a 17-point lead among voters who don’t lean towards one party or the other. When primed to think about the police reforms, they favor Ciattarelli by 29 points.

“Some of the police reforms that have been enacted are relatively unpopular, and Ciattarelli wasn’t wrong to focus on them,” said Cassino. “But it just doesn’t seem like that message got through to enough voters to make a difference.”

One reason that Ciattarelli’s attacks may not have had the full weight of their possible impact is that his name recognition still lags. While more voters are willing to offer an opinion of him than they were in July – then, 70 percent of New Jersey voters had no opinion – one third of New Jersey voters (34 percent) now say that they have no opinion of the Republican candidate. That figure includes 44 percent of independents, and even 27 percent of Republican voters in the state.

“If voters don’t know who you are, it doesn’t matter how good your attacks are,” said Cassino. “New Jersey is an expensive state to campaign in, and Ciattarelli just hasn’t been able to match Murphy’s visibility.”

Also on the ballot is a question asking voters if restrictions on sports gambling should be relaxed. Presently, sports betting is not allowed on college sports teams based in New Jersey, or on events that take place in New Jersey. The proposed amendment would allow betting on all such events. When the FDU poll last asked about this issue, in July, only 25 percent of voters supported the measure, with 49 percent saying that betting on college sports should continue to be banned. Today, 39 percent of voters say that they support betting on such events, with 41 percent saying that it should continue to be banned.

“There hasn’t been much publicity around this ballot question, and a lot of people are going to miss it, or skip it,” said Cassino. “It’s much closer than it was before, and there are many voters who aren’t going to make a decision about it until they get into the ballot box.”

Methodology

The survey was conducted between October 23 and October 28, 2021, using a certified list of registered voters in New Jersey. Respondents were randomly chosen from the list, and contacted via either live caller telephone interviews, or text-to-web surveys sent to cellular phones, resulting in an overall sample of 823 respondents. 249 of the interviews were carried out via landline telephones, with the remainder (580) going to cellular phones. Surveys were conducted only in English.

The data were weighted to be representative of the population of voters in previous New Jersey gubernatorial elections. The weights used, like all weights, balance the demographic characteristics of the sample to match known population parameters. The weighted results used here are balanced to match parameters for sex, age, and race/ethnicity. Weights for education of the respondents were considered, but found to be unnecessary, as the characteristics of the sample closely matched the target weighted characteristics.

SPSSINC RAKE, an SPSS extension module that simultaneously balances the distributions of all variables using the GENLOG procedure, was used to produce final weights. Weights were trimmed to prevent individual interviews from having too much influence on the final results. The use of these weights in statistical analysis helps to ensure that the demographic characteristics of the sample approximate the demographic characteristics of the target population. The size of these weights is used to construct the measure of design effects, which indicate the extent to which the reported results are being driven by the weights applied to the data, rather than found in the data itself. Simply put, these design effects tell us how many additional respondents would have been needed to get the weighted number of respondents across weighted categories: larger design effects indicate greater levels of under-representation in the data. In this case, calculated design effects are approximately 1.34.

All surveys are subject to sampling error, which is the expected probable difference between interviewing everyone in a population versus a scientific sampling drawn from that population. Sampling error should be adjusted to recognize the effect of weighting the data to better match the population. In this poll, the simple sampling error for 823 registered voters in New Jersey is +/-3.4 percentage points, at a 95 percent confidence interval. Including the design effects, the margin of error would be +/-4.5 percentage points, though the figure not including them is much more commonly reported.

This error calculation does not take into account other sources of variation inherent in public opinion studies, such as non-response, question wording, differences in translated forms, or context effects. While such errors are known to exist, they are often unquantifiable within a particular survey, and all efforts, such as randomization and extensive pre-testing of items, have been used to minimize them.

Weighted Telephone Sample Characteristics

823 Registered Voters in New Jersey

Figures are weighted to overall voter characteristics from previous gubernatorial elections. Respondents who refused to answer a demographic item are not included.

 

Man                             46%                 N = 379

Woman                             53%                 N = 435

Some Other Way 1%                  N = 5

 

18-29   12%           N = 99

30-44   22%                 N = 181

45-64   41%                 N = 337

65+    25%                 N = 208

 

Democrat (with leaners)             44%                 N = 365

Independent                              14%                 N = 116

Republican (with leaners)         34%                 N = 278

 

White                                 69%           N = 576

Black                                        12%           N = 101

Hispanic/Latino/a                           11%           N = 87

Asian    3%           N = 22

Other/Multi-racial                          1%           N = 9

 

No college degree            46%           N = 380

College degree or more               53%           N = 442

 

 

Region Classifications

Northwest: Hunterdon, Mercer, Morris, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren Counties
Northeast: Bergen and Passaic Counties
Urban Core: Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, and Union Counties
South: Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem Counties
Coast: Atlantic, Cape May, Monmouth, and Ocean Counties

Question Wording and Order

Half of respondents get governor’s race items before the Police Reform questions, half get them after the Police Reform questions.

NJ1. Many people in New Jersey are now voting by mail, or voting early, rather than voting in-person on Election Day. How about you? Do you plan to…

  1. Vote in person on Election Day
  2. Vote in person before Election Day
  3. Vote by Mail
  4. Not Vote
  5. Or are you not sure?
  6. [DK/REF]

NJ1A. [Only if voting by mail, or in person before Election Day: 2 or 3 in NJ1]: Have you already cast your vote, or not?

  1. Have already voted
  2. Have not yet voted
  3. [DK/REF]

NJ2. Do you approve or disapprove [RANDOMIZE] of the job Phil Murphy is doing as governor?

  1. Approve
  2. Disapprove
  3. [DK/Ref]

NJ3. On the whole, do you have a favorable opinion of Jack Cittarelli, an unfavorable opinion of him, or have you not heard enough to have an opinion one way or the other?

  1. Favorable
  2. Unfavorable
  3. No Opinion

NJ4.[Rotate Order of Options; if NJ1A is 1 (already voted) use alternate wording below] This year, there is a gubernatorial election between Democratic governor Phil Murphy and Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli. Who do you think you will vote for?

  1. Democrat Phil Murphy
  2. Republican Jack Ciattarelli
  3. Someone Else
  4. No One
  5. [Dk/Ref]

NJ4A. [Rotate Order of Options; use if NJ1A is 1 (already voted)] In the gubernatorial election between Democratic governor Phil Murphy and Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli. Who did you vote for?

  1. Democrat Phil Murphy
  2. Republican Jack Ciattarelli
  3. Someone Else
  4. No One
  5. [Dk/Ref]

NJ5. [If NJ1A is 1 (already voted) use alternate wording below] This year, voters are also being asked to vote on a ballot question asking whether betting should be allowed on college sports in New Jersey. Currently, betting is allowed for professional sports, but not for New Jersey teams, or teams playing in New Jersey. What do you think? Do you think betting on college sports in New Jersey…

  1. Should be allowed
  2. Should continue to be banned
  3. Not Sure
  4. [Dk/Ref]

NJ5A. This year, voters are also being asked to vote on a ballot question asking whether betting should be allowed on college sports in New Jersey. Currently, betting is allowed for professional sports, but not for New Jersey teams, or teams playing in New Jersey. How did you vote?

  1. Yes, to allow betting on New Jersey college sports
  2. No, betting on New Jersey college sports should continue to be banned
  3. Not Sure
  4. Didn’t vote on this question [Vol]
  5. [Dk/Ref]

In the last few years, there have been a number of new regulations about what police can and cannot do in New Jersey. I’m going to tell you about some changes in the rules regulating police officers in New Jersey. For each, tell me if you support or oppose the new rule, and if that view is strong, or somewhat.

LO1. Police departments must publicly identify officers who have been suspended, demoted or fired due to bad behavior.

LO2. Police officers may only use physical force against suspects as a last resort, and they must attempt to de-escalate any situation before they use force.

 

LO3. Police officers must report any other officer that they see violating use of force rules.

LO4. Police officers can’t arrest people under 18 for possession of alcohol or marijuana.

 

Strongly Support

Somewhat Support

Somewhat Oppose

Strongly Oppose

Don’t Know [Vol]

Refused [Vol]

 

We’d also like to ask you some questions about law enforcement more generally. For each statement, tell me whether you agree or disagree with the statement, and whether that’s strongly, or somewhat.

LO5. Police shouldn’t be allowed to have military style weapons and equipment

LO6. Additional regulations on the police necessarily make the public less safe.

LO7. Police officers have to be able to break the rules sometimes in order to keep the public safe.

LO8. If suspects would just do what they’re told, the police wouldn’t have to use force on them.

 

Strongly Agree

Somewhat Agree

Somewhat Disagree

Strongly Disagree

Don’t Know [Vol]

Refused [Vol]

Items on independent colleges and universities, and items on opioids to be released later

 

Release Tables

 
 
Party ID
Sex
Support in Governor’s Race
Overall
Dem
Indp
Rep
Men
Women
Murphy
53
94
39
6
48
57
Ciattarelli
44
3
56
91
48
41
Someone Else
3
2
5
2
3
2
No One
1
1
0
1
1
0

 

 
Condition
With Prime
Support in Governor’s Race
No Prime
Prime
Dem
Indp
Rep
Murphy
53
48
93
29
3
Ciattarelli
44
46
3
58
94
Someone Else
2
3
2
13
0
No One
1
3
2
0
3

 

 
 
Region
Support in Governor’s Race
Overall
Northwest
Northeast
Urban Core
South
Coast
Murphy
53
38
52
69
54
38
Ciattarelli
44
62
46
29
33
60
Someone Else
3
0
2
1
9
2
No One
1
0
0
1
4
0

 

 
 
Party ID
Sex
Sports Betting
Overall
Dem
Indp
Rep
Men
Women
Should be Allowed
39
39
36
44
48
33
Should Continue to be banned
41
40
50
40
42
42
Not Sure/Didn’t Vote
18
21
14
16
10
25

 

 
 
Region
Sports Betting
Overall
Northwest
Northeast
Urban Core
South
Coast
Should be Allowed
39
33
38
45
37
38
Should Continue to be banned
41
47
46
35
43
46
Not Sure/Didn’t Vote
18
20
15
20
20
16

 

Sex
Party ID
View of Ciatterelli
Overall
July 2021
Men
Women
Dem
Indp
Rep
Favorable
34
16
39
29
10
33
68
Unfavorable
32
14
30
33
57
23
5
No Opinion
34
53
31
38
33
44
27
Never Heard of (Vol)
0
17
0
0
0
0
0

 

(Visited 40 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

News From Around the Web

The Political Landscape