POLL: Jack Ciattarelli, Tammy Murphy might have early edge in ’25 N.J. gubernatorial race

It’s VERY early, Save Jerseyans, to the point where polls are of extremely limited utility. Still, a new Fairleigh Dickinson Poll (click here) suggests there are some candidates with early advantages in what otherwise appears to be wide-open nomination races for the two major parties.

“Right now, the race on the Democratic side is wide open,” explained FDU Poll Director Dan Cassino. “There are a lot of candidates who have been biding their time and waiting for their chance, and this it.”

At the top of the Democrat candidate pile very early on? The incumbent’s wife, although Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (D, NJ-11) may have the edge in terms of overall likeability:

“Tammy Murphy has the highest name recognition (73 percent), with Sweeney, Baraka, Oliver and Sherrill in the second tier. Fulop trails, with just 34 percent name recognition among Democrats statewide. To put these figures in context, the poll also asked about two fictional political figures, who were described as being either a Mayor, or a member of the Assembly, and a Democrat or a Republican. So, one respondent might be asked about Democratic Mayor Paula Hawkins, while another might be asked about Republican Assemblywoman Paula Hawkins. These fictional candidates had about 12 percent name recognition, which tells us that about 12 percent of New Jersey residents will claim to recognize – and sometimes offer opinions about – any name put to them. As such, a 41 percent name recognition among Democrats – as Sherrill has – is realistically more like 29 percent. By this measure, only one of the candidates – First Lady Murphy – has greater than 50 precent name recognition within her own party.

Of course, name recognition isn’t everything: more important, perhaps, is the percent of party members with favorable and unfavorable views of a potential candidate. By this measure, Congresswoman Sherill has a narrow lead over other contenders. Only 41 percent of Democrats say that they recognize her, but 28% of Democrats statewide have a favorable view of the third term Member of the House, and only one percent have a negative view of her. In contrast, 73 percent of Democrats have heard of First Lady Murphy, but just 27 percent report a favorable view, and 43 percent don’t have an opinion. Sweeney is the most polarizing figure among Democrats: while 55 percent recognize his name, almost the same percentage of Democrats like (19 percent) and dislike (16 percent) him.”

Sherrill is believed to be extremely interested in advancing to either Drumthwacket or, in the event of a U.S. Senate opening (Menendez gets indicted and convicted), to the other chamber of Congress.

On the GOP side…

“Among these candidates, Ciattarelli has the advantage of having been a recent nominee: 76 percent of Republicans say that they recognize him, and 47 percent have a favorable view of him. Close behind him, though, are talk show host Spadea and State Senator Mike Testa. Spadea has 37 percent name recognition among Republicans, though 14 percent of Republicans say that they recognize the fictional candidates, so the true figure is about 23 percent. Of that 37 percent, though, 26 percent say that they have a favorable view of him, with only 3 percent holding an unfavorable view. Testa has insignificantly higher name recognition – 41 percent – but only 20 percent of Republicans statewide have a favorable view of him. Rounding out the list of potential Republican nominees is State Senator Schepisi, who is in her first full term in the upper house of the legislature, having previously served in the State Assembly. She has just 22 percent name recognition among Republicans statewide, so only about 8 percent actually know who she is.”

“Schepisi has made an impression on Republicans in Trenton, helped by the fact that she was against vaccine mandates before it was fashionable,” added Cassino. “But that hasn’t yet reached the broader Republican electorate.”

An additional possible problem for any candidate not named Ciattarelli or Murphy:

Regional balkanization. The lack of a statewide media market makes building name recognition extremely difficult if an aspirant for high office isn’t already independently famous, insanely wealthy, or a prior statewide candidate.

“Another potential barrier for may of these candidates comes for the regional nature of their support,” the report itself continued. “While some high-profile candidates like First Lady Murphy and Ciattarelli are known throughout the state, others are unfamiliar to voters in some parts. For instance, Baraka has 60 percent name recognition in the northeastern and urban core counties, but only 25 percent recognition in South Jersey. Sixty-eight percent of residents in northwestern New Jersey know who Mikie Sherrill is, but but that figure is just 34 percent in the urban core, and 14 percent in the south. Similarly, Spadea has 36 percent name recognition in the coastal counties of Atlantic, Cape May, Monmouth, and Ocean, but only 17 percent in the northeastern part of the state.”

Matt Rooney
About Matt Rooney 8345 Articles
MATT ROONEY is SaveJersey.com's founder and editor-in-chief, a practicing New Jersey attorney, and the host of 'The Matt Rooney Show' on 1210 WPHT every Sunday evening from 7-10PM EST.