Can Jack Ciattarelli Beat Phil Murphy in New Jersey? Polls Show He Suddenly Has a Shot

Recent polling indicated the race for governor in New Jersey is tightening with just over one week remaining until Election Day.

Incumbent Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat, is running for re-election against Republican Jack Ciattarelli, a former member of the New Jersey General Assembly, in the November 2 race. New Jersey and Virginia are the only states that have regularly scheduled gubernatorial elections this year.

Murphy has led in the polls over the last several months, with voter surveys conducted in early June finding him with a double-digit lead over Ciattarelli. That lead narrowed over the last couple of months, with polling results released last week by Emerson College suggesting Murphy's lead in the race could be between 4 and 6 points.

Phil Murphy New Jersey governor's race
New polling indicates the governor's race in New Jersey is tightening with just over one week remaining until Election Day. Above, former President Barack Obama (L) and New Jersey Governor Phil Governor Murphy wave at attendees after taking part in an early vote rally on October 23, 2021 in Newark, New Jersey. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

Though New Jersey has gone to the Democratic presidential candidate every election year since 1992—with President Joe Biden winning the state last year by nearly 16 points—the state has flipped between Republican and Democratic governors, with Republican Chris Christie serving as Murphy's most recent predecessor for eight years before Murphy was elected to lead the state in 2017. According to The Associated Press, New Jersey voters haven't chosen to re-elect a Democrat in a gubernatorial election in decades.

New Jersey has more than 1 million more registered Democrats than it does registered Republicans, but more than 36 percent of the state's registered voters are independents, according to voter registration data last updated October 1. The mid-October poll from Emerson College said that while only 7 percent of voters were not yet sure which of the two candidates they would cast their ballots for, pollsters said a majority of those undecided voters were leaning toward supporting Ciattarelli.

In polls conducted shortly after Ciattarelli won New Jersey's GOP primary, Murphy's lead in the race was estimated to be between 11 and 19 points from mid-June through mid-August. That lead began to narrow in September, when a Monmouth University poll found Ciattarelli trailing Murphy by 13 points. A subsequent poll by the Stockton Polling Institute found Murphy's lead dipping below 10 points, and the latest poll from Emerson College found Murphy's lead to be 6 points among likely voters and down to 4 points when undecided voters leaning toward one candidate or the other were factored in. The poll, which was conducted October 15 through 18 among 600 likely voters, had a 3.9 percent margin of error.

During a recent interview with the AP, Murphy said his campaign was keeping the state's voting history in mind and "running like we're 10 points behind."

"We're taking nothing for granted," Murphy told the AP. "I mean, history has proven that this can be a very fickle year in terms of politics."

Newsweek reached out to Ciattarelli's campaign for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication. Murphy's campaign declined to comment on recent polling.