A joint poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University and the AARP shows Gov. Phil Murphy with a 25-point lead over his Republican opponent Jack Ciattarelli among older voters.
The report, published Oct. 13, found that 56% of New Jersey voters at least 50 years of age said they would vote for Murphy, compared to 31% who favored Ciattarelli, a former state Assemblyman from Somerset County.
Among his own base, Ciattarelli has lagging support, with 65% of conservatives in the poll saying they would vote for him, compared to 89% of Republicans. FDU and the AARP interviewed 802 New Jersey adults by phone between Sept. 27 and Oct. 3.
The margin of error was plus or minus 2.9 percentage points for the 1,109 people contacted for the poll, even though only 802 of them opted to be interviewed.
“Nobody likes tax increases, but voters – especially older voters – care a lot more about what they think is good for society than what might be best for themselves,” said Dan Cassino, who heads the FDU Poll.
Ciattarelli has repeatedly hammered Murphy on the state’s high tax rate and cost of living, and the litany of tax increases enacted since the Democrat took office in 2018.
Despite that, Murphy holds a 36-point lead among respondents who make more than $200,000 a year, a 21-point lead among those making between $100,000 and $200,000 a year, and a 34-point lead among those making between $75,000 and $100,000 a year.
The candidates butted heads Tuesday evening at their second gubernatorial debate at Rowan University, but neither offered substantive details on how they would bring down the tax rate and cost of living.
Other polls – one from Monmouth University and another from Stockton University – both show Murphy with sizable leads over Ciattarelli among voters.
With Ciattarelli lagging among older voters, he faces a much steeper uphill battle, said AARP New Jersey State Director Stephanie Hunsinger.
“50-plus voters decide elections,” she said in a prepared statement. “If they want to win, candidates must address how they’ll make New Jersey a place where we can safely, affordably and happily grow older.”
On top of tax increases, Ciattarelli has gone after Murphy over the high COVID-19 death toll at the state’s senior and nursing homes, which is now being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice.
And while Ciattarelli lags in support among seniors in the state’s urban centers – 62% to 22% – he’s nonetheless neck-and-neck with those in the Jersey Shore area where they both enjoy a 43% approval.
Everywhere else in the state – the Northwest, Northeast and South – Murphy leads Ciattarelli among over-50 votes, by eight, 12 and 35 points, respectively.
“If he wants this race to be competitive, Ciattarelli has to run up numbers along the coast, and stay competitive in the Northern suburbs,” Cassino added. “So far, he’s just not doing it.”