Murphy Pulls Ahead in NJ, McAuliffe Still in Danger as Virginia Race Reaches Home Stretch

New polling results released this week showed New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy widening his lead over Republican Jack Ciattarelli in the state's upcoming gubernatorial election after the results of a different voter survey released last week suggested the candidates were between 4 and 6 points apart.

New Jersey and Virginia are the only two states with regularly scheduled gubernatorial elections this fall, which take place on November 2. In Virginia, Democrat Terry McAuliffe is in a tight race with Republican Glenn Youngkin with less than one week remaining until voters decide who will be their state's next governor.

Murphy, a Democrat, is running for his second term in office against Ciattarelli, a former member of the New Jersey General Assembly. If Murphy wins his bid for re-election, he would be the first Democrat governor to do so in New Jersey in more than 40 years, according to The Associated Press.

Phil Murphy New Jersey poll
New polling results released Thursday by Stockton University suggested New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy was ahead of Republican gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli by 8 to 9 points leading up to the state’s November 2 election. Above, Murphy speaks at the NJ Transit Meadowlands Maintenance Complex on October 25, 2021, in Kearny, New Jersey. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Over the last few months, most polls conducted among New Jersey voters have shown Murphy ahead by double digits, but an Emerson College poll conducted in mid-October and released last week said 50 percent of respondents intended to vote for Murphy while 44 percent said they planned to vote for Ciattarelli. When respondents who hadn't yet decided their voting intentions but said they were leaning toward one candidate or the other were factored in, Murphy's lead over Ciattarelli narrowed to 4 points.

Monmouth University on Wednesday released the results of their final poll for the New Jersey race, which showed Murphy with a double-digit lead over Ciattarelli. Murphy's 11-point lead was down slightly from the 13-point gap he held in a September Monmouth poll but still ahead of the lead shown in the Emerson College poll.

A subsequent voter survey released by Stockton University on Thursday said Murphy was 8 points ahead of Ciattarelli when voters were asked which candidate they intended to support, and 9 points ahead when voters who were leaning toward either candidate were factored into the results. The university's William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy noted in a Thursday press release that the poll, which was conducted among 522 likely voters, had a 4.3 percent margin of error.

Murphy's 9-point lead in the latest Stockton University poll was equivalent to that reflected by September polling results released by the university and ahead of the narrower lead suggested by the Emerson College poll.

While polling results released this week suggest Murphy may have a stronger lead over Ciattarelli than voter surveys from last week indicated, Murphy's fellow Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Virginia is battling a competitive race with a handful of recent voter surveys finding McAuliffe and Youngkin tied.

According to polling averages compiled by FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics, McAuliffe was slightly ahead in the race on Thursday with an average polling lead of 1.5 points or less. While polling results released earlier this week by Christopher Newport University found McAuliffe ahead by 1 point, the candidates have been tied or found to be polling less than 1 point apart in polls released over the last couple of weeks by Monmouth University, Suffolk University and Emerson College.