Days before the election, a new poll shows Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy with a nine-point lead over his challenger, Republican Jack Ciattarelli, gaining support of the independents Ciattarelli would critically need.
In a Fairleigh Dickinson University survey released Oct. 29, 53% of voters said they’d vote for Murphy, while 44% said choose Ciattarelli, an accountant and former state Assemblyman from Somerset County.
The FDU poll is the third this week showing Murphy ahead of Ciattarelli. Monmouth University released a poll on Oct. 27 giving Murphy an 11-point lead, while a poll the next day from Stockton University also showed the incumbent with a nine-point advantage.
This latest poll was based on interviews with 823 registered New Jersey voters contacted by phone between Oct. 23 and 28. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.
Voters will head to the polls Nov. 2 to cast their ballots for governor and all 120 legislative seats.
While Ciattarelli is enjoying support in traditional Republican strongholds such as the Jersey Shore and the northwest, that alone might not be enough to turn the tide in his favor, suggested Dan Cassino, a government and politics professor who heads polling at FDU.
“Both candidates are about where you’d expect a generic Republican and a generic Democrat to be,” Cassino said in a statement. “But to win in New Jersey, a Republican has to do much better than that.”
The poll showed Ciattarelli leading 56% to 39% among independent voters, but FDU said independents moved toward Murphy over the course of the week. On Monday, 24% of independent voters said that they would support Murphy, with the remainder going to Ciattarelli or remaining undecided. But by Thursday night, 54% of independents said that they would support Murphy, controlling for other factors, FDU explained.
“It’s not impossible to close a nine-point gap in the polls,” Cassino added “But partisans are remaining stable, the independents are moving against Ciattarelli, with many people already having voted, it seems like it is too late to turn things around.”
In recent weeks Murphy has gotten visits and endorsements from several high-profile Democrats, including President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and former President Barack Obama.
U.S Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent widely considered one of the more left-leaning members of Congress, stumped with Murphy Thursday at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.