Monmouth Poll: Murphy Still Leads Ciattarelli by Double Digits

Murphy

Governor Phil Murphy maintains a double-digit lead over challenger Jack Ciattarelli, although it is slightly smaller than the incumbent’s advantage in last month’s Monmouth University Poll. The Democrat continues to enjoy a large issue advantage on handling the pandemic, while the Republican has a small edge on taxes. The Murphy campaign’s ads painting the GOP nominee as being too close to former President Donald Trump do not appear to have had much impact on the race, with half the electorate still having no opinion of Ciattarelli.

Just over half (51%) of registered voters polled currently support Murphy while 38% back Ciattarelli. Last month, the incumbent held a 52% to 36% lead. The small shift comes mainly from self-identified Republicans galvanizing behind the challenger (91%, up from 85% in August). Murphy, on the other hand, has the support of 90% of self-identified Democrats (up slightly from 87% last month) and maintains a 44% to 39% edge among independents (similar to 44% to 38% in August). Murphy continues to lead Ciattarelli in the northern (55% to 34%) and central (52% to 36%) regions of the state, while the race is basically even in South Jersey (46% Murphy and 45% Ciattarelli).

“September shifts are not unheard of in New Jersey elections and we see some potential for a single-digit race in these results. But we don’t really see movement in the underlying dynamics of this campaign, despite a stream of advertising from both sides,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

 A range of potential electorate models* show Murphy with a lead from 9 points to 14 points, depending on the scenario (compared to a range of 11 to 19 points last month). Murphy’s lead is the most narrow among voters who have cast ballots in every general election since 2016 (50% to 43%). This is smaller than his lead among these consistent voters last month (53% to 38%), but this group represents only one-third of the potential electorate. Turnout will likely be higher than this – it was 39% in 2017 – and Murphy holds a double-digit lead among less consistent voters, including a 51% to 40% lead specifically among those who voted in the 2017 gubernatorial contest.

NEW JERSEY: ELECTORATE SCENARIOS

Governor vote choice:

Registered voters

Range of

electorate models

September

Murphy

51%

50%

52%

Ciattarelli

38%

41%

38%

August

Murphy

52%

51%

55%

Ciattarelli

36%

40%

36%

 

Source:  Monmouth University Poll, Sep. 16-20, 2021

When asked whom they trust more to handle key concerns, voters give Murphy a clear advantage on the pandemic (50% to 23% for Ciattarelli) and a narrower edge on jobs and the economy (39% to 32%). The electorate gives Ciattarelli a 39% to 33% edge over Murphy when it comes to taxes. Voters are divided on who can better help small businesses (36% Ciattarelli and 34% Murphy) and handle crime (32% Murphy and 30% Ciattarelli). Compared to Monmouth’s August poll, Murphy has gained a few points on handling Covid while Ciattarelli has gained a few points on jobs and taxes.

“There have been some small shifts on issue advantages but nothing that has upset the underlying dynamic. Murphy retains a large edge on dealing with the pandemic. Ciattarelli’s ads have hit Murphy on taxes, small businesses, and even on the incumbent’s treatment of women, but the needle has not moved that much,” said Murray.

Voters trust Murphy (40%) more than Ciattarelli (17%) on who will make sure women are treated with respect. The challenger ran ads trying to undercut the incumbent’s standing by using footage of a former Murphy aide accusing his campaign of ignoring her sexual assault allegations.

In terms of overall impressions of the two major party nominees, nearly half (48%) of the state’s voters have a favorable view of Murphy while 37% have an unfavorable opinion, with 16% giving no answer. Murphy’s rating stood at 48% favorable and 33% unfavorable in August.

 Ciattarelli registers a net positive opinion of 31% favorable and 19% unfavorable, with both numbers increasing by a few points over the past month (from 26% and 12%, respectively). Still, half the New Jersey electorate has no opinion of the Republican nominee (50%, down from 61% in August).

 About a third (35%) of Garden State voters say Murphy’s political views are in line with most New Jerseyans while 24% say he is out of step. Fewer voters have an opinion of Ciattarelli’s views – 16% say his views are in line with the state and 17% say they are out of step.

“This is typical New Jersey voter inattentiveness. Ciattarelli has not been able to introduce himself yet, but these results also mean the Murphy campaign’s attempts to paint their opponent as an extremist have not penetrated either,” said Murray.

When asked to describe Ciattarelli’s views regarding the Trump wing of the Republican Party, 22% of New Jersey voters say he is in agreement with that wing and 26% feel Ciattarelli does not necessarily agree with the Trump wing but says things to keep their support. Another 20% feel the GOP nominee is independent of the Trump wing of his party and 32% say they do not know where Ciattarelli stands relative to that wing.

Most Garden State voters who see Ciattarelli as associating with Trump tend to see it is a bad thing (65% of those who say he is in agreement with the Trump wing see it as bad and 66% of those who feel Ciattarelli is just saying things to get that wing’s support see it as bad). Among the Republican electorate though (including GOP identifiers and those who lean toward the party), 91% of those who feel Ciattarelli is in line with Trump see it as a positive (just 7% say it is a negative). Opinion is more divided among Republicans who say the nominee is just accommodating the Trump wing (50% see this is as good thing and 40% see it as bad).

“The Murphy campaign has tried to cast their opponent as a Trump clone. Maybe they should be planting the idea that Ciattarelli is just paying the Trump wing lip service to dampen GOP enthusiasm for him. But in the end, Trump himself does not appear to be a driving factor for where this race stands right now,” said Murray. The poll finds most New Jersey voters (73%) do not care one way or the other that the former president spent the summer months at his golf club in Bedminster. Half (50%) aren’t even aware he was living in the state.

The poll also asked about the Democratic governor’s views in relation to the progressive wing of his party. Nearly half of the electorate (44%) see Murphy as being in agreement with that wing and 25% feel he does not necessarily agree with the progressive wing but says things to keep their support. Another 17% feel Murphy is independent of the progressive wing of his party and 15% say they do not know where he stands relative to that wing. New Jersey voters who say Murphy is in line with the progressives are more likely to see that as a bad thing (54%) rather than a good thing (41%). However, among Democrats and Democratic leaners who see Murphy as part of the progressive wing, 91% see this as a good thing.

“Being aligned with the polar end of the party’s base plays well within that party. But that also means whoever has the bigger base wins because there is no appeal to voters in the middle, if such voters even exist anymore,” said Murray.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from September 16 to 20, 2021 with 804 New Jersey registered voters. The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

  *   Monmouth’s electorate models for the 2021 election are not forecasts. They are designed to present a range of reasonable outcomes based on voter intentions at this moment. Monmouth tests a variety of models where each registered voter is assigned a probabilistic weight between 0 and 1, based primarily on past voting history, with adjustments for self-reported likelihood to vote, motivation and other factors. Further adjustments are applied to the aggregate sample based on turnout propensities among different demographic groups (e.g. by race, gender, education). The two scenarios included in this report show the extreme ends of the range of possible outcomes from the model testing.

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS     

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

1.      If the election for Governor was today, would you vote for Jack Ciattarelli the Republican, Phil Murphy the Democrat, or some other candidate? [NAMES WERE ROTATED] [If UNDECIDED: If you had to vote for one of the following candidates at this moment, who do you lean toward – Jack Ciattarelli or Phil Murphy?]

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS (with leaners)

Sept.
2021

Aug.
2021

Jack Ciattarelli

38%

36%

Phil Murphy

51%

52%

Other candidate

2%

2%

(VOL) No one

<1%

1%

(VOL) Undecided

9%

9%

(n)

(804)

(810)

[QUESTIONS 2 & 3 WERE ROTATED]

2.      Is your general impression of Jack Ciattarelli very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable, or do you have no opinion?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS

Sept.
2021

Aug.
2021

Very favorable

10%

8%

Somewhat favorable

21%

18%

Somewhat unfavorable

9%

5%

Very unfavorable

10%

7%

No opinion

50%

61%

(n)

(804)

(810)

3.      Is your general impression of Phil Murphy very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable, or do you have no opinion?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS

Sept.
2021

Aug.
2021

TREND:

Sept.
2021

Aug.
2021

May
2021

Apr.
2018

July

2017

Very favorable

21%

18%

Favorable

48%

48%

50%

41%

29%

Somewhat favorable

27%

30%

Somewhat unfavorable

11%

10%

Unfavorable

37%

33%

36%

28%

12%

Very unfavorable

26%

23%

No opinion

16%

19%

No opinion

16%

19%

14%

31%

59%

(n)

(804)

(810)

     (n)

(804)

(810)

(661)

(632)

(758)

[Q4-6 held for future release.]

[QUESTIONS 7-12 WERE ROTATED]

7.      Who do you trust more on handling the Covid pandemic – Jack Ciattarelli or Phil Murphy, or both equally? [NAMES WERE ROTATED]

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS

Sept.
2021

Aug.
2021

Jack Ciattarelli

23%

21%

Phil Murphy

50%

46%

Both equally

17%

17%

(VOL) Neither

5%

6%

(VOL) Don’t know

6%

9%

(n)

(804)

(810)

8.      Who do you trust more on jobs and the economy – Jack Ciattarelli or Phil Murphy, or both equally? [NAMES WERE ROTATED]

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS

Sept.
2021

Aug.
2021

Jack Ciattarelli

32%

27%

Phil Murphy

39%

35%

Both equally

19%

22%

(VOL) Neither

3%

6%

(VOL) Don’t know

7%

10%

(n)

(804)

(810)

9.      Who do you trust more on taxes – Jack Ciattarelli or Phil Murphy, or both equally? [NAMES WERE ROTATED]

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS

Sept.
2021

Aug.
2021

Jack Ciattarelli

39%

30%

Phil Murphy

33%

29%

Both equally

17%

22%

(VOL) Neither

4%

8%

(VOL) Don’t know

8%

12%

(n)

(804)

(810)

10.    Who do you trust more to help small businesses – Jack Ciattarelli or Phil Murphy, or both equally? [NAMES WERE ROTATED]

REGISTERED VOTERS

Sept.
2021

Jack Ciattarelli

36%

Phil Murphy

34%

Both equally

21%

(VOL) Neither

3%

(VOL) Don’t know

6%

(n)

(804)

11.    Who do you trust more on handling crime – Jack Ciattarelli or Phil Murphy, or both equally? [NAMES WERE ROTATED]

REGISTERED VOTERS

Sept.
2021

Jack Ciattarelli

30%

Phil Murphy

32%

Both equally

28%

(VOL) Neither

3%

(VOL) Don’t know

7%

(n)

(804)

12.    Who do you trust more on making sure women are treated with respect – Jack Ciattarelli or Phil Murphy, or both equally?

REGISTERED VOTERS

Sept.
2021

Jack Ciattarelli

17%

Phil Murphy

40%

Both equally

31%

(VOL) Neither

4%

(VOL) Don’t know

9%

(n)

(804)

[QUESTIONS 13 & 14 WERE ROTATED]

13.    Are Jack Ciattarelli’s political views in line or out of step with most New Jerseyans, or are you not sure?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS

Sept.
2021

Aug.
2021

In line

16%

13%

Out of step

17%

15%

Not sure

68%

73%

(n)

(804)

(810)

14.    Are Phil Murphy’s political views in line or out of step with most New Jerseyans, or are you not sure?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS

Sept.
2021

Aug.
2021

In line

35%

32%

Out of step

24%

22%

Not sure

41%

46%

(n)

(804)

(810)

[QUESTIONS 15-A & 16-A WERE ROTATED]

15.    Which of the following comes closest to describing Jack Ciattarelli’s views – he is in agreement with the Trump wing of the Republican Party, he does not necessarily agree with the Trump wing but he says things to keep their support, or he is independent of the Trump wing of the party?

REGISTERED VOTERS

Sept.
2021

In agreement

22%

Says things to keep support

26%

Independent

20%

(VOL) Don’t know

32%

(n)

(804)

15A.  And do you tend to see that as a good thing or bad thing about Ciattarelli?

REGISTERED VOTERS

Sept.
2021

Good thing

30%

Bad thing

34%

(VOL) Neither

2%

(VOL) Don’t know

2%

Don’t know Ciattarelli’s views (from Q15)

32%

(n)

(804)

16.    Which of the following comes closest to describing Phil Murphy’s views – he is in agreement with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, he does not necessarily agree with the progressive wing but he says things to keep their support, or he is independent of the progressive wing of the party?

REGISTERED VOTERS

Sept.
2021

In agreement

44%

Says things to keep support

25%

Independent

17%

(VOL) Don’t know

15%

(n)

(804)

16A.  And do you tend to see that as a good thing or bad thing about Murphy?

REGISTERED VOTERS

Sept.
2021

Good thing

40%

Bad thing

40%

(VOL) Neither

3%

(VOL) Don’t know

2%

Don’t know Murphy’s views (from Q16)

15%

(n)

(804)

17.    Did you know Donald Trump spent the summer months living at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, or did you not know about this?

REGISTERED VOTERS

Sept.
2021

Yes, know

50%

No, not know

50%

(n)

(804)

18.    Do you have a good feeling or bad feeling about Trump spending much of his time in New Jersey, or do you not really care either way?

REGISTERED VOTERS

Sept.
2021

Good feeling

9%

Bad feeling

16%

Not really care

73%

(VOL) Don’t know

2%

(n)

(804)

19.    How will you vote this year – in person on Election Day, in person at an early voting location, or by mail ballot?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS

Sept.
2021

Aug.
2021

In person on Election Day

54%

54%

In person at an early voting location

6%

5%

By mail ballot

35%

36%

(VOL) Won’t vote at all

0%

0%

(VOL) Don’t know

4%

5%

(n)

(804)

(810)

20.    How motivated are you to vote in the election for governor – very motivated, somewhat motivated, or not that motivated?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS

Sept.
2021

Aug.
2021

Very motivated

67%

65%

Somewhat motivated

24%

26%

Not that motivated

8%

9%

(VOL) Don’t know

1%

0%

(n)

(804)

(810)

21.    Compared to past elections for governor, are you more enthusiastic than usual, less enthusiastic, or about the same as past elections?

TREND: REGISTERED VOTERS

Sept.
2021

Aug.
2021

More enthusiastic

27%

27%

Less enthusiastic

11%

9%

About the same

61%

63%

(VOL) Don’t know

2%

1%

(n)

(804)

(810)

[Q22-30 held for future release.]

METHODOLOGY

 

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from September 16 to 20, 2021 with a statewide random sample of 804 New Jersey voters drawn from a list of registered voters. This includes 225 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 579 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone, in English. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. The full sample is weighted for party registration, age, gender, race, education, and region based on state voter registration list information and U.S. Census information (CPS 2018 supplement). Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and Aristotle (voter sample). For results based on the full voter sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

 

NJ Regions (by county)

North – Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Passaic, Sussex, Union, Warren

Central – Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Somerset

South – Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Ocean, Salem

DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)

REGISTERED VOTERS

 

Party Registration

23% Republican

39% Democrat

37% Other/none

 

Self-Reported Party ID

22% Republican

43% Independent

36% Democrat

 

49% Male

51% Female

 

22% 18-34

22% 35-49

29% 50-64

26% 65+

 

64% White, non-Hispanic

13% Black

14% Hispanic

  9% Asian/Other

 

55% No degree

45% 4 year degree

MARGIN OF ERROR

unweighted  sample

moe

(+/-)

REGISTERED VOTERS

 

804

3.5%

PARTY REGISTRATION

Republican

202

6.9%

Democrat

322

5.5%

Other/none

280

5.9%

SELF-REPORTED PARTY ID

Republican

175

7.4%

Independent

331

5.4%

Democrat

286

5.8%

GENDER

Male

400

4.9%

Female

404

4.9%

AGE

18-34

154

7.9%

35-49

173

7.5%

50-64

242

6.3%

65+

225

6.5%

   RACE

White

519

4.3%

Black

112

9.3%

Hispanic, Asian, other

136

8.4%

   COLLEGE GRADUATE

No degree

375

5.1%

4 year degree

423

4.8%

RACE EDUCATION

White no degree

245

6.3%

White 4 year degree

271

6.0%

Black, Hispanic, Asian, other no degree

115

9.1%

Black, Hispanic, Asian, other 4 year degree

132

8.5%

REGION

North

366

5.1%

Central

209

6.8%

South

229

6.5%

 

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