New Poll on Gubernatorial Race: Most in NJ Undecided

A new FDU PublicMind poll on the governor’s race has some surprises, some odd opinions about the declared candidates and even one who has not declared. NJTV News Correspondents David Cruz and Michael Hill talk about that and more — about four months before voters decide party nominees.

Cruz: Yeah. Michael, we should point out that even those of us who cover this stuff aren’t paying much attention to this stuff. But, I mean, it’s sort of the equivalent of the top of the first inning, you know? The primaries are in June and then the election in November. But the poll did give some interesting numbers. On the Democratic side, Phil Murphy, of course having spent millions of dollars already and has been campaigning for over a year, is on top of that list at 17 percent with [Sen. Ray] Lesniak and Assemblyman [John] Wisniewski following close by at 7 [percent] and 6 percent respectively. The big numbers there are the number for other which is 17 percent and undecided, 50 percent. So that says a lot about how much people are not tuning in on the Democratic side. Or the Republican side where Kim Guadagno, the lieutenant governor, is at 18 percent, followed by other at 13 percent and then undecided at 52 percent. So not much buy-in yet from folks.

Hill: What about the issues? Are the issues even playing a role?

Cruz: I think that this poll and polls right around this time are more a function of name recognition, you know? That’s why you’ll see a guy on the Republican side like Joe Piscopo who’s at 12 percent. That’s a number that, to me, is the most surprising out of this. He’s not even a candidate at this point and he’s already polling at 12 percent. But again, it’s early, an indication of “Oh I know that guy, Piscopo. That name is familiar to me.” But as far as issues go, I don’t think so. I don’t think you’re seeing a lot of that in terms of why or what people are paying attention to as far as this race goes.

Hill: And it doesn’t seem to mention Jim Johnson, the former treasury official who is calling for a spending limit in this campaign.

Cruz: Yeah, Jim Johnson is a guy that we’ve had here on our air before and he impressed a lot of us here by his really great knowledge of the issues and his really calm, professional demeanor. He’s polling at 2 percent, but that alone should be considered a victory because he is kind of coming out of nowhere. And it serves his purpose to ask Phil Murphy to set a spending limit because Phil Murphy’s a guy who can take $15 million out of his pocket and just put it on the table and start to fund his campaign, which he kind of did really, lending his campaign $10 million.

Hill: But you don’t realistically expect anybody to go long with that though — $15 million?

Cruz: No, I mean, I wouldn’t. If I had $15 million to spend on a campaign, I wouldn’t agree to any limits either.