DemDaily: High Stakes in the Garden State

October 30, 2017

The elections for the two 2017 gubernatorial contests, Virginia and New Jersey, are just a week away, giving Democrats hope for dual victories and pundits fodder for gaging the mood of the electorate under the Trump administration.

NJ Governor Chris Christie (R) is limited to his two terms

While polling shows the Virginia race at a statistical tie, in New Jersey Democrat Phil Murphy has a significant, but shrinking, lead over Republican Kim Guadagno going into the last stretch.

Garden State Stats
At first glance, Dems have the ideal foundation for a sweep. President Trump's unpopularity in New Jersey (@33% approval) is surpassed only by that of incumbent Republican Governor Chris Christie @15%, Democrats have a 2-to-1 state registration advantage, and Murphy has outraised Guadagno 3-to-1 ($13.8 to $4.4 million).

Much more than the gubernatorial, however, is at stake. 

At Stake in New Jersey
The Governorship and all 40 State Senate seats (24D-16R, three short of a supermajority); 80 State House seats (52D-28R, two short of a supermajority); Municipal elections (Mayor, City Council, County Board), School Board and two statewide Ballot Measures. *A supermajority allows the controlling legislative body to override a governor's veto

New Jersey is one of 19 states with a divided government, with Republicans holding the governorship, and Democrats in control of the legislature. With all 120 legislative seats and down ballot municipal elections up November 7th, both parties are investing heavily in the outcome.

Kim Guadagno (R) and Phil Murphy (D)

As of last week, according to the state's Election Law Enforcement Commission, the Democratic Governor's Association has increased their investment to $1.5 million compared to the Republican Governor's Association $1.6 million.

That does not include the multi-million dollar ad campaign being waged by outside groups and allies of both parties.

The Candidates
Murphy, 60, worked as Global Head of the Investment Management Division and Senior Director at Goldman Sachs before serving as DNC Finance Chair (under Howard Dean) and US Ambassador to Germany (under Obama).  His running mate for Lt. Governor is former State Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver.

RGA Attack Ad "Loaded and Liberal" (click)

Guardagno, 58, previously served as the state's Assistant Attorney General and as a federal proscector before being elected as Christie's Lt. Governor for the last eight years.  Her running mate is Woodcliff Lake Mayor Carlos Rendo.

The Numbers
An October 19-24, Quinnipiac University Poll (+/-4.2% MoE) has Murphy up 57% to 37%, which is a 5% dip in his lead from September numbers.

Real Clear Politics, which averaged the results of seven top polls from September 28th through October 28th, has Murphy up by 15.6%.

"Back in the Water" by Committee to Build the Economy ties Quadagno to Christie (click)

New Jersey Voter Deadlines
October 31st:    Absentee Ballot Request Deadline-By Mail
November 1st:  Absentee Ballot Return Deadline-By Mail
November 3rd:  Absentee Ballot Request Deadline for Overseas Voters (electronic)
November 6th:  Absentee Ballot Request Deadline-In Person
November 7th:  Absentee Ballot Return Deadline-By Mail

 

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Kimberly Scott
Publisher

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Sources: NewJersey.com, Real Clear Politics, Quinnipiac, Observer, Politico, Fox, CBS, The Seattle Times/AP

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