With Election Day just over 12 hours away, the latest poll from Rutgers University shows incumbent Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy with an eight-point lead over his Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli.
Murphy, in the Nov. 1 poll from Rutgers Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling, garnered the support of 50% of voters who said they will or already have voted for him, versus 42% who said the same about Ciattarelli.
The former Somerset County Republican has lagged behind Murphy in every poll that’s come out in recent weeks, and all of them along similar lines as the Monday Eagleton report.
An Oct. 27 poll from Monmouth University showed Murphy with an 11-point lead over Ciattarelli, while an Oct. 28 Stockton University poll and Oct. 29 Fairleigh Dickinson University poll both showed him with a nine-point lead.
The two candidates campaigned feverishly up through this weekend, with Murphy holding dozens of get-out-the-vote rallies across the state, and Ciattarelli hosting dozens of meet-and-greets at diners, eateries and other community-gathering spots.
Spending by outside groups has surged past $39 million, while spending by the two candidates has swelled beyond a combined $46 million.
But despite growing national interest, Murphy still maintains a comfortable lead, suggested Ashley Koning, who heads the Rutgers polling institute.
“If we look at the several statewide polls conducted in the last week, the big picture points to a sizable margin for Murphy that – despite narrowing throughout the campaign – will be difficult for Ciattarelli to overcome in the final days, especially in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1 in registration,” said Koning in a prepared statement.
The poll showed that 24% of New Jersey voters were picking their candidate of choice out of opposition for the other candidate, while 18% said the decision was due to party affiliation.
While 79% of voters were aware that the gubernatorial election is tomorrow, only 30% knew about the corresponding legislative race, with all 120 seats up for grabs.
Murphy’s campaign, according to Koning, has done a good enough job trying Ciattarelli to former President Donald Trump that it seems to be working with voters, “as all but one who mention Trump do so as a reason not to vote for Ciattarelli.”
“Voters cite Murphy’s handling of the pandemic as a reason to vote both for him and against him, with a few voters specifically mentioning nursing homes and mask mandates as reasons for their opposition,” she continued.
Ciattarell’s name-recognition, which lagged in the early summer when he won the Republican nomination, has improved since then, and now just 13% of respondents in the Eagleton poll say they’ve never heard of Ciattarelli.
Eagleton relied on the responses of 1,008 New Jersey voters interviewed by phone between Oct. 21 and 27. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.
So far, 207,365 New Jerseyans have taken advantage of early voting while another 495,336 people in the state have cast their ballots by mail, according to the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University.