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Murphy Holds Steady Lead

New Jersey

Few voters know much about candidates’ political views

West Long Branch, NJ  – Democrat Phil Murphy holds a 14 point lead over Republican Kim Guadagno among likely voters in the race for New Jersey governor. Guadagno’s campaign recently went after Murphy for being out of step with the state on immigration, but the latest Monmouth University Poll  finds that she hasn’t been able to move the needle. In fact, with less than a week to go before the election, most voters say they don’t have a clear idea of either candidate’s political views.

Currently, 53% of likely voters support Murphy and 39% support Guadagno in Tuesday’s election for governor. Independent candidates garner 2% of the vote and 7% of voters remain undecided. Murphy held a similar 51% to 37% lead over Guadagno at the beginning of October.

Among registered Democrats, Murphy has an 81% to 13% advantage. Among registered Republicans, Guadagno has a 70% to 18% edge. Among unaffiliated voters, Murphy holds a slim 46% to 43% lead. Unaffiliated voters represent 4-in-10 of all registered voters in New Jersey, but they will only comprise about one-fourth of Tuesday’s electorate due to their lower turnout rate in non-presidential elections.

“After failing to generate voter attention for her property tax plan, Guadagno changed tactics and tried to paint Murphy as out of step over his sanctuary state comments. It hasn’t worked,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

The poll asked generally about whether the two candidates’ political views are aligned with the opinions of most Garden State voters. Overall, 28% of voters think that Murphy’s political views are generally in line with state residents while 18% say his views are out of step with most New Jerseyans. A majority of 53%, though, say they don’t know enough about his views to determine whether they are in line or out of step with the state.

“This election has been the proverbial tree falling in a forest. As much as Guadagno has tried, the voters just haven’t been listening. She might have been able to make some headway with a more attentive electorate, but that just wasn’t in the cards this year. Most voters are simply going to walk into the voting booth next week and choose ‘X’ the Republican or ‘Y’ the Democrat,” said Murray.

In addition to a majority saying they don’t know whether Murphy’s political outlook aligns with the views of most residents, a similar 57% say the same about Guadagno. Another 18% feel her political views are generally in line with the Garden State and 25% say they are out of step with most New Jerseyans.

The Monmouth University Poll  also finds that more than one-third of likely voters have not formed an opinion about either major party nominee. While 36% hold a favorable view of Murphy and 30% have an unfavorable view, 34% express no opinion. This is not drastically different from his 33% favorable and 23% unfavorable rating four weeks ago. His favorable rating has gone up an insignificant 3 points and his unfavorable rating has risen by 7 points.

Guadagno currently has a 29% favorable and 32% unfavorable rating, with 39% of likely voters having no opinion of her. Last month, she had a 31% favorable and 25% unfavorable rating. Her favorable rating declined by an insignificant 2 points while her unfavorable rating went up 7 points.

“We are almost certain to see a record low turnout on Tuesday. The irony is that even though the electorate will be comprised of people who tend to vote in most elections, a majority of them will be casting ballots without having a clear idea what either candidate actually stands for.” said Murray.

Monmouth’s polling estimates about 38% of registered voters will participate in this year’s election. Turnout was 40% in the 2013 contest which is the current record low for a gubernatorial election in New Jersey.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from October 27 to 31, 2017 with 529 New Jersey residents likely to vote in the 2017 gubernatorial election.  The results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 4.3 percent.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.


(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

1/2. If the election for governor was today, would you vote for … Kim Guadagno the Republican, Phil Murphy the Democrat, or some other candidate? [If UNDECIDED: If you had to vote for one of the following at this moment, do you lean more toward Kim Guadagno or more toward Phil Murphy?]  [NAMES WERE ROTATED]

Likely voters with leanersNov.
Kim Guadagno, the Republican39%37%
Phil Murphy, the Democrat53%51%
Other candidate2%2%
(VOL) Undecided7%9%


3. Is your general impression of Kim Guadagno favorable or unfavorable, or do you have no opinion of her?

No opinion39%45%

4. Is your general impression of Phil Murphy favorable or unfavorable, or do you have no opinion of him?

No opinion34%44%


5. Are Kim Guadagno’s political views generally in line or out of step with most New Jerseyans, or are you not sure? [If OUT OF STEP: Is Guadagno more liberal or more conservative than most New Jerseyans?]

In line18%
 Out of step, more liberal2%
 Out of step, more conservative18%
Out of step, unsure of direction5%
 Not sure if in line or out of step57%

6. Are Phil Murphy’s political views generally in line or out of step with most New Jerseyans, or are you not sure? [If OUT OF STEP: Is Murphy more liberal or more conservative than most New Jerseyans?]

 In line28%
 Out of step, more liberal15%
 Out of step, more conservative1%
 Out of step, unsure of direction2%
Not sure if in line or out of step53%


The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from October 27 to 31, 2017 with a statewide random sample of 529 likely New Jersey voters drawn from a list of registered voters who voted in at least two of the last four general elections or have registered to vote since January 2016, and indicate they are likely to vote in the upcoming election. This includes 296 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 233 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. Final sample is weighted for region, party registration, age, gender, and race based on state voter registration list and U.S. Census information. Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and Aristotle (voter sample). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design).  Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

NJ Regions (by county):

Northeast – Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Passaic.

West/Central – Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset, Sussex, Warren.

Central/Shore – Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Union.

South – Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Ocean, Salem.


      Party Registration

33% Republican
44% Democrat
23% Unaffiliated


26% Republican
36% Independent
38% Democrat
46% Male
54% Female
11% 18-34
21% 35-49
34% 50-64
34% 65+
76% White
11% Black
8% Hispanic
5% Asian/Other

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.