Murphy holds big lead over GOP rival in NJ governor's race: poll

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) holds a wide lead over his virtually unknown Republican opponent, according to a new survey from Fairleigh Dickinson University.

The poll, conducted June 9 to 16, found Murphy leading former state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R) by a 48 percent to 33 percent margin.

Ciattarelli won the Republican nomination earlier this month, claiming about half the vote over three other candidates. He faces a steep climb against Murphy, who won election in 2017 with 56 percent of the vote.

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The poll shows Murphy leads by a two-to-one margin among female voters, though Ciattarelli holds a small edge among voters who call themselves independents. Half of New Jersey voters approve of the job Murphy has done as governor, and half say the state is headed in the right direction.

Just 16 percent of New Jersey voters say they see Ciattarelli favorably, and only 14 percent view him unfavorably. A full 70 percent of voters said they had no opinion of him or had never heard of the Republican nominee.

The poll of 803 registered voters, conducted by Braun Research, carried a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

New Jersey is one of two states that elect governors the year following a presidential election, along with Virginia.

In recent years, the president’s party has had a difficult time winning there: Murphy won a year after Donald TrumpDonald TrumpCapitol fencing starts coming down after 'Justice for J6' rally Netanyahu suggests Biden fell asleep in meeting with Israeli PM Aides try to keep Biden away from unscripted events or long interviews, book claims MORE won the White House. His predecessor, Chris ChristieChris ChristieChristie, Pompeo named co-chairs of GOP redistricting group Christie: Biden's new vaccine mandate will 'harden opposition' Allies see rising prospect of Trump 2024 White House bid MORE (R), won election twice in the year after Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaWhite House debates vaccines for air travel Five questions and answers about the debt ceiling fight Our remote warfare counterterrorism strategy is more risk than reward MORE easily carried New Jersey’s electoral votes. Democrats Jim McGreevey and Jon Corzine won the governorship during George W. Bush’s two terms in office, and Republican Christine Todd Whitman held the office during the Clinton administration.

Murphy came to politics after a long career at Goldman Sachs and after a four-year posting as Obama’s first ambassador to Germany.