By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Managing Editor
TRENTON, N.J. — More polling data released shows that Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli has an uphill battle if he is to take down Governor Phil Murphy in November’s gubernatorial election.
Data from Fairleigh Dickinson University shows that Gov. Murphy holds a 15-point lead ahead of Mr. Ciattarelli, who won the GOP nomination for this year’s election two weeks ago. His lead in this poll, which was conducted among 803 registered voters in New Jersey, checks in at 48-33, but that wasn’t the only telling piece of data released by FDU’s polling center.
Mr. Ciattarelli, who defeated pastor Phil Rizzo, engineer Hirsh Singh, and former Franklin Township Mayor Brian Levine in the primary election, clearly has a name recognition deficit to top, and FDU’s poll isn’t the first to show this. Although Mr. Ciattarelli is viewed favorably more than he’s viewed unfavorably (16% of those polled view him favorably against 14% who view him unfavorably), the remaining 70% of those polled have no opinion on the Republican nominee for governor. In fact, 17% of those who responded to the poll said they had never heard of Mr. Ciattarelli.
“Ciattarelli has his work cut out for him,” Dan Cassino, a professor of Government and Politics at Fairleigh Dickinson University and the Executive Director of the poll, said. “Being unknown is better than being disliked, but running ads in New Jersey to build up awareness is an expensive proposition.”
According to FDU’s poll, voters have a “largely positive” view of Gov. Murphy. Fifty percent of those polled — including 81% of Democrats and 11% of Republicans — approve of Gov. Murphy’s job performance, and 39% say they don’t approve of his job. Gov. Murphy’s 50% approval rating represents an eight percent jump from a poll conducted by FDU in February 2020. Fifty percent of those polled believe that New Jersey is on the right track, but 40% of those polled — including 82% of Republicans — say the state isn’t on the right track.
A poll of 1,004 voters conducted by Rutgers University prior to the primary election showed that 52% of people didn’t know who Mr. Ciattarelli is. This would obviously change after his victory in the GOP primary, but Mr. Ciattarelli clearly has some work to do just to get New Jerseyans familiar with his platform.
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