Campaign

Murphy holds double-digit lead in New Jersey governor's race: poll

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) holds an 11-point lead over Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli in next week's gubernatorial race in a new Monmouth University poll released Wednesday. 

Murphy enjoys the support of 50 percent of registered voters who were surveyed, compared with 39 percent for Ciattarelli, a former state lawmaker. The margin marks a slight decrease from the same poll in August and September, which showed Ciattarelli with leads of 16 points and 13 points, respectively.

Still, the poll showing a double-digit margin is likely to ease Democrats' concerns after another poll released last week showed Murphy ahead by just 6 points in deep-blue New Jersey.

"We've had a couple of debates and a slew of advertising since the last Monmouth poll. Ciattarelli has chipped away at Murphy's lead but hasn't delivered the knockout he needs," said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Murphy is boosted by strong leads among Black voters and other voters of color in the poll, as well as a 6-point edge among white voters with a college degree. Ciattarelli, meanwhile, has a 55-35 lead among white voters without a bachelor's degree. 

Each candidate gets 75 percent support among registered voters of their own party. 

Independents are split nearly evenly, with 41 percent backing Murphy and 40 percent backing Ciattarelli. However, "unaffiliated" voters - who are not registered with any political party and are key to victory in the Garden State - favor Murphy by a 46-40 margin. 

"Even if we figure in potential error margins for these partisan group results, Ciattarelli cannot win this race based on registered Republicans and unaffiliated voters alone. That outcome would require a pretty sizable collapse of Democratic turnout," said Murray.

The poll underscores the headwinds Ciattarelli, a self-proclaimed "disciple of Lincoln," faces running against a Democratic incumbent in a deep blue state even in a year when Democrats face a slew of negative headlines over gridlock in Washington.

The race in New Jersey has largely flown under the national radar as focus from both parties is largely trained on the gubernatorial contest in Virginia between former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and Republican Glenn Youngkin. 

The Monmouth University poll surveyed 1,000 New Jersey registered voters from Oct. 21-25 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

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