New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has double-digit lead over Republican Jack Ciattarelli in new poll

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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has a big lead over Republican opponent Jack Ciattarelli, according to a new poll, but Murphy’s approval ratings have plummeted and many voters still don’t know who the GOP candidate is less than five months before the general election.

In the first public poll of New Jersey voters since Ciattarelli won the June 8 GOP primary, Fairleigh Dickinson University found that half of the state’s voters approve Murphy’s job performance. That’s down from 57% in a Monmouth University poll in May.

Ciattarelli, a former state assembly member, beat three Republican primary rivals this month. But 70% of New Jerseyans polled said they didn’t know Ciattarelli enough to have an opinion on him, while 17% said they had never heard of him. Only 16% percent viewed it favorably.

Murphy leads Ciattarelli by 15 percentage points, according to the poll, from 48% to 33%.

“Ciatterelli has its work cut out for him,” Dan Cassino, pollster and Fairleigh Dickinson government professor, said in a statement. “Being a stranger is better than being hated, but running ads in New Jersey to build awareness is an expensive proposition. “

READ MORE: Jack Ciattarelli Wants To Campaign Against Phil Murphy To Find Out Who The Real ‘Jersey Guy’ Is

Murphy and Ciattarelli enjoy broad support from their parties, with 84% of Democrats saying they would support Murphy and 77% of Republicans supporting Ciattarelli.

But registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a million in New Jersey. And the Republican ticket drew the same support in the poll, whether voters were asked about Ciattarelli specifically or given the choice of an anonymous GOP candidate.

“To win statewide, Republican candidates have to outperform a generic candidate,” Cassino said. “So far Ciatterelli just doesn’t do that.”

Even among Republicans surveyed, Ciatterelli is little known: 35% said they had a favorable opinion of him, while 48% had no opinion and 9% had not heard of him.

Among independent voters, 36% said they approved of Murphy’s work, while 41% disapprove.

Murphy’s approval rates remain higher than before COVID-19, when many voters still didn’t know who he was. But the pandemic has boosted both its visibility and popularity, with voters broadly endorsing its early response to the pandemic. At one point last year, pollsters measured his approval ratings as high as 71%.

“Governor Murphy is not focusing on the polls but on leading our state to the other side of the pandemic,” campaign spokesman Jerrel Harvey said on Monday.

If he manages to win a second term in November, Murphy would be the first Democratic governor of New Jersey in decades to be re-elected.

READ MORE: Phil Murphy gave New Jersey progressives what he promised. Now they have their backs for his re-election.

When asked how former President Donald Trump should be treated when he visits his Bedminster golf course this summer, 42% of those polled said he should be ignored. About a third said he should be welcome and 24% said he should be discouraged from coming.

Trump dominated the GOP primary race, with two candidates vying for – and parting with – his most staunch supporters, a reflection of his enduring popularity among New Jersey Republicans.

The survey of 803 registered voters in New Jersey, conducted June 9-16, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

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