TRENTON — Years of speculation and months of campaigning, debating, and mudslinging have come down to this: by Tuesday night, New Jersey will know who its 56th governor is going to be.

Democrat Phil Murphy, the former U.S. ambassador to Germany, continues to be viewed as the front-runner over Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno. A few polls have shown the race to be tightening, but no more than the difference between an elementary schooler and an adult tightening the lid on a jar. The aggregator Real Clear Politics indicates Guadagno has gained only two percentage points on Murphy, averaging the results of all recent surveys, since exactly a month ago.

RCP has Murphy in the lead by an average of 14.4 points as polls open on Election Day.

A roundup of other polls conducted in the past week:

Of those four most recent polls, Quinnipiac had the largest margin of error, at ± 5.2 points.

Late last week, as NJ.com reported, Guadagno disputed the wide margin most polls had been forecasting, saying that a previous Quinnipiac survey — which had Murphy at a 20-point lead — "doesn't even come close" to internal polling by both Democrats and Republicans, specifically in the area of Guadagno's seemingly scant popularity among women.

Not mentioned, but surely in the backs of the minds of all involved, were the many polls predicting a clear victory for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race, instead won by Donald Trump.

And while there were no "October surprises" in this contest comparable to then-FBI Director James Comey's reopening of the investigation into Clinton's private email server last year, a development on Monday had the potential to influence undecided Garden State voters.

Incumbent Gov. Chris Christie, whose lieutenant Guadagno has been for the past eight years, questioned a claim made by former Gov. Thomas Kean at a Guadagno campaign event on Sunday. Kean, long considered a Christie mentor, said he slashed state government during his time in office, but Christie told NJ.com on Monday that state appropriations in the budget more than doubled on Kean's watch.

The remark by Christie may have been in response to Kean's attempt to answer why Christie was not at the Sunday event for Guadagno.

"Look, Phil Murphy would like Chris Christie here," Kean said. "He's trying to make the campaign about Chris Christie. It's not about Chris Christie."

Patrick Lavery produces "New Jersey's First News" and is New Jersey 101.5's morning drive breaking news reporter. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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