As I discussed yesterday, the New Jersey governor’s race should be getting more attention, hasn’t been polled much lately, and contains some warning signs for Democrats looking down the road at 2022. It remains very much a long shot for Republican Jack Ciattarelli, however. The newest Monmouth poll confirms both the warnings for Democrats and the steep hill that faces Ciattarelli.
The good news for the Democratic incumbent, Phil Murphy, is that Monmouth has him up eleven points, 50 percent to 39 percent. (There are actually a range of turnout scenarios with Murphy up between eight and 14 points, but eleven is the pollster’s best estimate.) That is down from a 16-point lead in August and a 13-point lead in September in the same pollster’s surveys, but it is still a comfortable lead with under a week to go. Unlike the wide spread among independents for Ciattarelli in the Emerson poll, Monmouth’s crosstabs show Murphy trailing by only a point (41 percent to 40 percent) among independents, still a five-point swing from 2017. Murphy’s job approval of 52 percent to 39 percent suggests an incumbent likely to win. If Murphy wins by low double digits, that would be a reassuring outcome for Democrats in this environment.
The bad news for Democrats? Joe Biden. In a state Biden carried by 17 points just a year ago, the president’s approval rating is six points underwater, with 43 percent approving and 49 percent disapproving. He’s 16 points underwater with independents (37 percent to 53 percent). He’s 14 points underwater with voters under age 35, usually a Democratic stronghold (38 percent to 52 percent) — the geriatric president’s worst showing with any age group, although he is behind with all the other age brackets, too. Twenty-four percent of black voters and 33 percent of Hispanic, Asian, or other nonwhite voters in New Jersey disapprove.
Murphy’s huge edge in spending and his ability to keep invoking Donald Trump in a deep-blue state has kept Biden from dragging him down too far. Other Democrats a year from now may find that a harder act to pull off.
Something to Consider
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