Tag Archives: Gov. Phil Murphy

A New Jersey Shock Poll

By Jim Ellis

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D)

Sept. 7, 2021 — The Fabrizio Lee polling firm, surveying for the Club for Growth organization (Aug. 4-29; 600 likely 2021 New Jersey election voters, live interview) finds New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) potentially falling into a precarious political position.

Since June 1, Gov. Murphy has led in all four publicly released polls, each from a different pollster, with margins ranging from a low of 11 to as high as 28 points over former state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R). The Fabrizio-Lee data casts a much different light upon the race, finding Gov. Murphy leading by a scant 43-41 percent margin as the contest has apparently become tighter with August ending.

Digging deeper into the polling analysis, it appears that Gov. Murphy is in slightly better position than the Fabrizio lead ballot test suggests, but nowhere close to his previous standing. The question then posed: is there significant movement toward Ciattarelli or is this Fabrizio Lee poll an outlier?

Among the 600 respondents who identify themselves as planning to vote in the Nov. 2 election, segmentation exists between those who have previously voted in an odd-numbered year election and those who have not. Among the “Gov-election” voters, Murphy’s ballot test position improves to 46-40 percent. For those who have not cast a ballot in a previous NJ governor’s election, Ciattarelli pulls ahead of the incumbent by a 41-35 percent margin, but these individuals are significantly less likely to participate.

The poll illuminates several other warning signs for the incumbent, however. While Ciattarelli has an 87:3 percent loyalty factor among Republicans, Gov. Murphy is running slightly less robustly among Democrats (75:11 percent). More concerning for the governor is him trailing among white voters (39-48 percent), and Independents (28-43 percent). Failing to improve within these two latter sectors could result in an upset election loss for the first term state chief executive.

Though the poll responses are weighted to compensate, the sampling universe’s racial composition is different than the state population numbers. The respondent sample is more heavily white than the state as a whole, with Hispanic and black respondents totaling only about half of their standing within the population at large. This would suggest that the Murphy ballot test numbers are slightly deflated.

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Ciattarelli, McAuliffe Win Respective Primaries for Governor in NJ, VA

Jack Ciattarelli , New Jersey

By Jim Ellis

June 9, 2021 — As expected, former Virginia governor, Terry McAuliffe, and ex-New Jersey state assemblyman, Jack Ciattarelli, won their respective Democratic and Republican primaries for governor last night in the two states holding major 2021 elections.

McAuliffe will face Republican Glenn Youngkin, who was nominated in a May hybrid party convention, while Ciattarelli will challenge Garden State Gov. Phil Murphy (D), who seeks a second term.

Former Virginia governor, Terry McAuliffe

Virginia, which is the only state that limits its governors to one consecutive term, sees McAuliffe, also a former Democratic National Committee chairman, returning to the campaign trail after a break in service. He was governor from 2013-2017, yielding to current Gov. Ralph Northam (D) four years ago. In last night’s vote, McAuliffe captured 62.3 percent of the vote against four challengers including scandal tainted Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax who attracted less than 18,000 votes (3.5 percent) and finished a poor fourth.

When compared to the 2017 Democratic primary, the 2021 cycle turnout lagged. Once the final votes are posted, it will be clear that Democratic participation was down approximately 10 percent from four years ago. This is largely because the governor’s race was not particularly competitive. It has been a foregone conclusion for months that McAuliffe would easily capture the party nomination.

The lieutenant governor’s contest went to state Delegate Hala Ayala (D-Woodbridge) as she defeated fellow state Delegate Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke) 39-25 percent, in a field comprised of six candidates. The attorney general’s race was relatively close and showed weakness for incumbent Mark Herring as he defeated state Delegate Jay Jones (D-Norfolk), 56-43 percent, a poor showing for a two-term incumbent in his own party. The primary result suggests that Herring could find himself in a general election battle with GOP nominee Jason Miyares, a state Delegate from Virginia Beach.

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NJ, VA Primaries Today

By Jim Ellis

June 8, 2021 — The two states with odd-numbered year elections in 2021 are holding their partisan primaries today, though one Old Dominion party has already nominated its statewide candidates. Voters in New Jersey and Virginia will choose nominees for governor and other elected statewide offices and for seats in their respective state legislatures.

Virginia Republicans, in a unique “drive-thru” convention, chose their gubernatorial nominee, Glenn Youngkin, on May 8. Nominees for lieutenant governor and attorney general were also selected through the ranked choice voting system to narrow the field to a point where one candidate receives majority support after several rounds of counting.

In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy is unopposed in the Democratic primary and former state assemblyman, Jack Ciattarelli, (pronounced: Chit-a-relli) is favored to capture the GOP nod after receiving official local Republican party endorsements in 17 of the state’s 21 counties. He faces businessman and frequent candidate Hirsch Singh, former Franklin mayor, Brian Levine, and pastor Phil Rizzo.

Virginia Democrats are expected to again back former governor and ex-Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe as their party nominee. He enjoys wide polling leads over former Prince William County state Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), scandal-tainted Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, and state Delegate Lee Carter (D-Manassas).

Virginia is the only state in the Union that limits its governors to one four-year term but does not prevent former incumbents from seeking the office again as McAuliffe is doing. Many southern states historically installed a one-term limit for their governors, but Virginia remains the only place that maintains the practice. McAuliffe served from 2013 through 2017 before yielding to current incumbent Ralph Northam (D).

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Jersey House Competition

By Jim Ellis

April 27, 2020 — The Monmouth University Polling Institute conducted a statewide poll of the New Jersey electorate (April 16-19; 704 New Jersey adults, 635 registered New Jersey voters, 96 percent of whom said they are certain or likely to vote in November) and while the results returned predictable figures in the presidential and Senate races, an interesting tidbit about the House races came to light.

In the presidential race, former vice president Joe Biden led President Trump 54-38 percent according to Monmouth’s latest New Jersey poll, and Sen. Cory Booker (D) led his strongest potential Republican opponent, 55-32 percent. Both sets of numbers were predictable and consistent with recent Garden State voting history.

New Jersey congressional districts: Districts 1, 6, 8, 9, 10, and 12 are the six safe seats. Districts 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 11 comprise the competitive sector.

Though the Monmouth pollsters didn’t test the individual House races, they did ask the partisan preference question and segmented the congressional districts into two campaign categories, the competitive group and the non-competitive group.

Statewide, 50 percent of the respondents said they would vote for the Democratic candidate for the US House of Representatives as compared to 38 percent who would choose the Republican contender. But when looking at the competitive House category, Republicans look to have a glimmer of hope of potentially recapturing some of the seats they lost in the 2018 election.

In that year, Democrats converted Districts 2, 3, 7, and 11, gaining four seats and leaving the 12-member NJ federal delegation with only one Republican member at the outset, Rep. Chris Smith (R-Hamilton) in the 4th CD. Since the election, Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis Township/Atlantic City) changed parties after being elected as a Democrat. All of these seats, including District 4, and 5 in northern New Jersey (Rep. Josh Gottheimer-D), comprise the competitive sector. Districts 1, 6, 8, 9, 10, and 12 are the six safe seats.

In the “safe” House category, 56 percent of respondents said they would vote for the Democratic candidate as compared to 31 percent who aligned themselves with the eventual Republican general election candidate. In the competitive districts, however, by a 46-45 percent plurality, the respondents said they would vote for the Republican candidate. Considering that Rep. Gottheimer will not be seriously challenged, the GOP numbers in the truly contested districts should even be stronger. This type of result should continue to make many of the Garden State seats prime 2020 Republican national targets.

The safe seats, with all incumbents seeking re-election, are held by Reps. Donald Norcross (D-Camden City), Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch), Albio Sires (D-West New York), Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson), Donald Payne (D-Newark), and Bonnie Coleman Watson (D-Ewing Township).

The competitive seats feature party-switching Rep. Van Drew seeking his first re-election. He looks strong in the Republican primary – a first vote as a party’s new incumbent can be difficult – and will face either college professor Brigid Callahan Harrison or Amy Kennedy, wife of former US Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), in what should be a competitive general election. With a solid Republican primary victory, Rep. Van Drew will be favored in November.

The 3rd District may be the Democrats’ most vulnerable seat. Freshman Rep. Andy Kim (D-Bordentown) upset then-Rep. Tom MacArthur (R) in 2018, and now faces what should be a strong GOP opponent. Venture capitalist David Richter, who was originally running in the 2nd District until Rep. Van Drew became a Republican, is considered the favorite for the GOP primary, and he appears to be a strong challenger for Rep. Kim but will have less time to develop the campaign. Gov. Phil Murphy (D) has moved the state primary from June 2 to July 7.

NJ-3 looks to be the most likely of the New Jersey seats to flip. Until Kim won here two years ago, and except for a one-term lag, Republicans had held this southern New Jersey seat since 1979.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-Hamilton), who was first elected to the House in 1980, looks to face an easier re-election contest this year than he did two years ago. In an election when he was the Republicans’ lone survivor, Rep. Smith scored a 55-43 percent victory.

Freshman Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill) will almost assuredly face state Senate Minority Leader and former statewide candidate Tom Kean Jr. Sen. Kean’s father, Tom Kean, served as New Jersey’s governor from 1982-1990. This race promises to be a premier contest in a district that a Republican has represented since 1981 until Malinowski won in the most recent vote.

In northern New Jersey’s 11th District, freshman Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair/Morristown) who won another traditionally strong Republican seat that the party had held since consecutively since 1985, stands for her first re-election. Her challenger is consensus Republican candidate Rosemary Becchi, an attorney and former Capitol Hill committee staff member, who was originally challenging Tom Kean Jr. for the party nod in the 7th District.

Party leaders were able to convince her to run in the 11th CD and helped clear the field. She will be a credible challenger to Rep. Sherrill, but the congresswoman is such a strong fundraiser (already has raised $3.4 million for this election) that the race will be a difficult one for Sherrill despite what should be a favorable district.

With Republicans developing a strong slate of New Jersey US House candidates in places where they have traditionally been successful, the Garden State elections will go a long way toward determining if the GOP has any chance of re-claiming the House majority. If the Democrats stem the tide here, they very likely will retain control.

Sen. Cory Booker Ends Run for 2020

By Jim Ellis

Sen. Cory Booker (D)

Jan. 15, 2020 — With less than three weeks from the first votes being cast in the Democratic presidential nomination process, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) announced via Twitter that he is ending his national effort.

The move is not surprising, as Sen. Booker rarely reached or surpassed three percent support in any presidential primary poll. Like Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), who left the race just before the California candidate filing deadline in early December, visions of Senate re-election may have at least in part driven the timing of Booker’s move. While Sen. Harris doesn’t face voters in a strong Democratic state until 2022, Sen. Booker is on the New Jersey ballot this year.

Before the presidential race began, New Jersey legislators and Gov. Phil Murphy (D) changed the state election law to allow candidates to run simultaneously for more than one office. The move was obviously made to assist Sen. Booker’s presidential efforts. Now, however, the simultaneous filing option becomes moot.

Leaving the race now provides him an excuse for finishing poorly in the first four voting states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, though he filed for each primary and caucus vote and will still be on the ballot in at least New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Though Sen. Booker appears safe for re-election, the New Jersey filing deadline isn’t until March 30. Poor finishes in all primary and caucus states could have left him in a vulnerable state, and while the Garden State is highly unlikely to elect a Republican to the Senate, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that a strong Democrat could have begun to mount a primary challenge. Now we can expect Sen. Booker to invest all of his political capital into cementing his re-election for a second full six-year term.

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