InsiderNJ Poll: Who will Win the Race for New Jersey Governor?

Ciattarelli and Murphy backers both want full pension payments.

One week remains in the Nov. 2nd New Jersey Governor’s race pitting incumbent Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy against Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli in a contest with national implications.

New Jersey and Virginia are the only two governors’ contests in the country this year, and represent the midway point between Joe Biden beating Donald Trump for the presidency last year and 2022 midterm congressional elections nationwide.

Biden came to New Jersey this week ostensibly to make his argument for two stalled massive spending bills critical to his agenda as president. By this point, Democrats had hoped Congress – where they control the majorities in both houses – would have passed the bills and given a decided bounce to Murphy in new Jersey and incumbent Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe in Virginia.

But it didn’t work out that way, as the president gave an attempt at an upbeat nod from the podium Monday to U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-5), the New Jersey Democrat who initially insisted that congressional leadership divide Biden’s legislative agenda into two pieces. The Bergen-based congressman wants to be able to vote in favor of the infrastructure bill – which contains money to build the long delayed Gateway Tunnel to New York City – and reserve the right to oppose the so-called “Build Back Better bill”, largely seen as the more progressive of the two.

Gottheimer inhabits an affluent suburban district, and worries about the tax impact on his constituents.

The President insisted that his bills ultimately will save taxpayers because of the depth of investment in long overdue areas. “My Build Back Better plan is going to cut childcare costs more than in half for low- and middle-income New Jersey residents,” said Biden, undertaking an especially detailed explanation of the thornier bill. “Under my plan, no middle-class family will spend more than 7 percent of their income on childcare.”

But his inability to get the two-pronged agenda done prior to Nov. 2nd puts additional pressure on Murphy as voters size up a party in power seemingly at war with itself in Washington, D.C.

Ciattarelli has seized on the static condition of the federal legislation to pummel Murphy by association, while maintaining his central criticism of the incumbent as too far-left for New Jersey. This week, the Republican appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show to double back with disgust on comments the governor made about the Bill of Rights being “above his pay grade,” and property taxes probably rightly driving single issue voters out of New Jersey. Also, this week, Republicans identified comments by senior Murphy advisor Wendy Martinez about how the Democratic governor will delay more COVID mandates until after the election, as evidence of disingenuous leadership.

Throughout, Murphy has counter attacked his adversary by highlighting Ciattarelli’s rightward tilt during the pandemic, which included attending and speaking at a “Stop the Steal” rally dominated by pro-Trump people arguing the invalidity of the 202o presidential election, and complaining about Ciattarelli’s lack of candor when he said he didn’t know about the political aims of the rally. Democrats have also highlighted as reckless some of the Republican’s stances on COVID, including a statement he made in opposition to a mask mandate that “children are not vulnerable to this virus.” Murphy and his allies maintain that those comments serve as evidence of Ciattarelli having to occupy too close a proximity to Trump and his backers.

In pursing reelection, Murphy has mostly used the organizing principle of his stewardship of the state during the COVID-19 crisis as the chief reason why voters should return him to office, in contrast with Ciattarelli, who has appeared muddled at times on the subject.

Democratic Party registration advantages in New Jersey give Murphy a huge head-start, but in the closing days of the campaign, the governor’s Democratic Party allies worry about lack of enthusiasm. Trying to galvanize voters, the Murphy Campaign continues to bring political luminaries to the state. But events anchored by former President Barack Obama and U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn in Essex and Hudson respectively underwhelmed, and the President’s appearance again merely highlighted national Democrats’ inability to seal the deal on Biden’s agenda.

A Monmouth poll tomorrow – Wednesday, Oct. 26th – will reveal more on the horse race.

Last month, the polling institute found that just over half (51%) of registered voters polled supported Murphy while 38% backed Ciattarelli, a slight adjustment from august when the incumbent held a 52% to 36% lead.

In the meantime, in honor of the final week of this contest, and in expectation of Monmouth’s final poll of this season, please consider the question below.

Who Will Win the Race for Governor of New Jersey?

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  • M Styles

    NJ needs to vote for JACK or else it is over. NJ is sinking fast, a leader like JACK is the only hope we have to save this great state. VOTE FOR JACK!!! NO MORE TYRANY!!!!

  • Concerned NJ Citizen

    New Jersey is a mess and the Democratic Party genuinely failed with the inability to pass Bidens Corner stone 3.5 Tril deal because as it’s been proven before senators and representative will be continued to be bought out by lobbyists as long as it’s allowed to benefit corporations and big pharma.

    Currently millennials with college educations and decent careers can’t even afford the cost of living in NJ yet alone purchasing a home because of all the corporate development and foreign investors purchasing real estate in New Jersey. I usually vote DEM just by foundational principles but what has Phil been doing for New Jersey during his tenure?

    • Moe Howard

      For NJ as a whole? He’s done nothing for us. As you mention, the cost of living here is still ridiculous. The smart millennials are getting out, I know mine did.

      Phil raised NJ’s budget by 30% since he’s been in office. There’s an addition $4B in debt for our children to pay off. This is not helping NJ’s affordability at all.

      Are the roads any better? How about NJ Transit? School funding? Why do we continue to throw good money after bad to these “Abbott” districts? Why are we still paying for Hoboken and Jersey City schools? Because the NJEA says we will. They own Phil. Prove me wrong.

      With Phil’s bail and sentencing reforms, criminals are laughing all the way to their next home invasion. But they’ll tell you that we need more police reforms. I think not!

      Legal pot? Overwhelmingly approved by the voters. Democrat governor with a solid Democrat legislature, and it takes them almost 4 years to get where we are today. And where are we today? Well, we can’t walk into a store and buy it now, can we, But you can still go to jail for a few plants in your yard. Whether you’re for legal pot or not, this issue clearly demonstrates that the Dem legislature is dysfunctional, and Phil has lousy leadership skills.

      And to this day…do we yet know who hired Al Alvarez?

      Phil needs to go.

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