By Jim EllisSept. 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.