The 2021 contest for Governor pits incumbent Democrat Phil Murphy against Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli.
Not many people give Ciattarelli a strong chance against Murphy. A June Rutgers-Eagleton poll found that 52% of registered New Jersey voters favor the Democratic incumbent and 26% like the GOP challenger.
A Rutgers-Eagleton survey released in June shows 55% of the state’s adults approve of the governor’s performance, while 40% disapprove. That’s down from 62% approval in the group’s last poll, from October, and 77% approval from May 2020, when the pandemic was in its early stages, the Star-Ledger notes.
“Still, his latest numbers remain slightly higher than his marks before COVID-19. Murphy was at 52% approval in an April 2019 poll with a slightly different methodology, taken about a year before the pandemic began, and 43% in a November 2018 survey, according to Rutgers-Eagleton’s polling,” according to reporter Brent Johnson.
Patrick Murray, polling director of the Garden State-based Monmouth University Polling Institute, said “it’s an uphill battle for a Republican right now to knock off an incumbent governor, particularly considering the fundamental advantage Democrats currently have in New Jersey with a double-digit registration edge.”
And Murray noted that “an election with an incumbent governor is about how the governor has done for the past four years and whether they deserve to be reupped for another four. Based on where we stand right now, the governor’s job approval rating is solid – largely because of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.”
Murphy is running for reelection with his 2017 running mate, Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, while Ciattarelli will announce his running mate choice this month.
The contest is already ugly.
Murphy’s campaign wants to tie Ciattarelli – who defeated self-proclaimed Donald Trump allies in the primary – to former President Donald J. Trump. Just today, Ciattarelli released a digital ad making the case that Murphy is anti-police. The Republican challenger is also seeking to define the incumbent Democrat as anti-business and repeatedly highlights Murphy’s assisted living facility policies during the pandemic. The Murphy Camp dismisses Ciattarelli as a candidate who had to appease the Trump wing of his party by refusing to wear a mask at public events, for example.
A fourth candidate, Edward “Weedman” Forchion, is running a write-in campaign.
Here’s the question: