With the first gubernatorial debate just a week away, is the race getting tighter?
It kind of depends on what you want to believe.
Jack Ciattarelli of late has been hyping two polls that show the race neck and neck.
One by the Club for Growth has Phil Murphy up by a mere one point. The other by pollster Adam Geller has Murphy up by only three points.
Geller earned some acclaim in 2016 for reportedly predicting the swing to Donald Trump in such battleground states as Wisconsin and Michigan.
Fast forward to 2021.
If the race truly is within the margin of error in a state where Dems outnumber Republicans by more than a million, that’s unsettling news for Murphy.
But is it?
Democrats scoff at the notion that Ciattarelli is really that close, noting that non-partisan polls, most recently one by Monmouth University, have the governor up by double digits.
And, in truth, partisan polls are notoriously suspect.
Of the two polls giving favorable news to Ciattarelli, the Club for Growth is a conservative, pro-business group and Geller is a Republican strategist and pollster.
Still, Ciattarelli mentioned the two polls – as was to be expected – during a radio appearance today on the Bernie and Sid show on radio station WABC.
This is fascinating radio and Ciattarelli was on the show for the third time. The hosts are unabashed cheerleaders for Ciattarelli, which is their right.
But that doesn’t make them political geniuses. The hosts said today that they didn’t know how New Jersey usually votes, nor did they know about the debates, of which there will be two.
The friendly hosts, of course, allowed Ciattarelli to state his main campaign themes, one of which is that under Murphy’s watch, businesses closed and jobs were lost.
This has to do with the pandemic, but Ciattarelli blames Murphy”s leadership.
He also continues to blame the governor for a late and poor response to Ida and to oppose mask mandates.
The Republican was asked if he is being given a “fair shake” by the media.
This was a hanging curveball designed, presumably, to give Ciattarelli a chance to rail against the injustices of “fake news.”
To his credit, Ciattarelli didn’t take the bait. He suggested that the campaign is not about the media, but about him.
“It’s about us to make impacts with the voters,” he said.
And on that score, Ciattarelli said he thinks he’s making a more compelling case than Murphy is.
For their part, the Murphy campaign is stepping up its attacks on Ciattarelli.
Today, Team Murphy said Ciattarelli wants to cut taxes for the rich and decrease outlays for transportation and schools.
An ad launched last week showed a video of Ciattarelli addressing a “stop the steal” rally in Bedminster about three weeks after the presidential election.
It’s obviously no surprise that Murphy wants to tie Ciattarelli to Trump.