New Jersey is a hot mess. You would think that after four years of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s social, criminal, and economic wokeness, voters would be eager to replace him in November.
If you thought that, you thought wrong. That’s because if you’re a Democrat, you probably aren’t voting for Murphy’s opponent Jack Ciattarelli. If you’re a conservative Republican you probably aren’t voting for Jack Ciattarelli either. That’s because Ciattarelli has had harsh words for former President Donald J. Trump, calling the former president, “A charlatan unfit to be president” and “an embarrassment to America”.
He recently dissed his former opponents Joe Rullo and Hirsh Singh, saying they and their followers have “baggage” and are “toxic” to the New Jersey Republican party. Why? Because Singh and Rullo are the faces of the MAGA movement in New Jersey, a movement Ciattarelli works overtime to distance himself from.
Now, a Monmouth University Poll confirmed everything political insiders have been whispering about for months. Even though New Jersey is in desperate need to replace Phil Murphy, Jack Ciattarelli’s actions have turned off millions of conservatives and Trump supporters statewide who might go as far as giving Phil Murphy a second term just to punish Ciattarelli for his hostility toward Trump and the conservative movement.
The poll shows Ciattarelli is in a very bad spot heading into November against Murphy. Murphy holds a double-digit lead over the Republican establishment candidate as the New Jersey gubernatorial election gets underway.
Worse, the poll shows Murphy with a sizable lead in Central Jersey – a region that has been a key to Republican electoral success in the past. Murphy has a decided edge on the campaign’s top issue – the pandemic – and also holds his own on other key concerns, including taxes and the economy. Few voters have formed an opinion of Ciattarelli, a former three-term state legislator, and still fewer have even heard of either candidate’s running mate for lieutenant governor. In essence, nobody knows who Jack is, except for shore area voters who felt the wrath of Jack while he was in office.
Ciattarelli was one of a few legislators in Trenton who voted no on two crucial key legislative actions to help Superstorm Sandy victims recover and rebuild. That didn’t go unnoticed when one of the shore’s top conservative mayors, Anthony Vaz of Seaside Heights endorsed Murphy, who has been there for shore communities in the post-Christie era.
Ciattarelli voted against federal funding to help homeowners and businesses rebuild in the wake of the Superstorm Sandy disaster and later voted against foreclosure protection for homeowners who lost everything at the shore.
While shore area Republican leaders pose with Ciattarelli in front of the camera, behind the scenes, they talk freely about his impending election loss and show no real concern about it. They remember what Jack did, but have to put on the GOP party makeup when in public and announce their support for Ciattarelli.
Still, Ciattarelli’s arrogance prevents him from building bridges with those who he and his campaign have attacked, Trump supporters, conservatives and his former opponents.
One of those opponents, Joseph Rullo, who has a Facebook following of nearly half a million conservative Republicans today lashed out at Ciattarelli’s failure to reach out to the party’s base of conservatives. Instead, Ciattarelli’s campaign has done nothing but attack people like Rullo and his followers.
According to the poll, just over half (52%) of registered voters currently support Murphy while 36% back Ciattarelli. Both candidates claim formidable leads among voters who identify with their respective parties, but Murphy holds a narrow edge (44% to 38%) among voters who do not see themselves as aligned with either party. Regionally, Murphy leads in both the northern (60% to 29%) and central (52% to 38%) parts of the state, while South Jersey is tilted slightly toward Ciattarelli (45%, to 40% for Murphy).
“These results illustrate the challenge any Republican running in New Jersey would face this year. One place to start is Central Jersey. Chris Christie won this region by 15 points when he narrowly ousted a Democratic incumbent in 2009, but it appears to be Murphy territory this time around,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
Murray added, “The key to GOP victory in the past has been winning over upper-income moderate Republicans in Somerset County and working-class swing voters in Middlesex. Both these groups have swung decidedly toward the Democratic party during the Trump era, and it doesn’t look like they are about to swing back any time soon – even for someone like Ciattarelli, who is one of their own.”
The poll also finds Murphy has a significant advantage among voters of color – 85% to 5% among Black voters and 69% to 19% among Latinos, Asians, and multiracial voters. Ciattarelli holds a 49% to 40% lead among white voters, but there is a split based on education. His lead with this group is largely due to white voters without a bachelor’s degree (55% to 34%). White college graduates narrowly prefer Murphy (48% to 41% for Ciattarelli).
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