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Who will be NJ’s governor? Murphy leads, but 7 in 10 don’t know who he is

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Later this year, New Jersey voters will head to the polls to elect a new governor.

A new poll finds the leading Democrat is ahead of the front-running Republican. But name recognition is still a major concern for both candidates, and the Democrat still doesn’t have the support of a majority of voters despite a massive advertising campaign.

Mickey Carroll, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll, said businessman Phil Murphy is comfortably ahead of Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, 47 to 25 percent.

But most voters don’t know who they’ll vote for.

About 63 percent of voters don’t know enough about Guadagno, the former Monmouth County sheriff who’s been Gov. Chris Christie’s No. 2 for nearly eight years. And 70 percent don’t know enough about Murphy, who Carroll pointed out has “spent about a zillion dollars.”

Carroll said among Democratic primary voters, Murphy gets 23 percent, Assemblyman John Wisniewski gets 6, and former Treasury Undersecretary Jim Johnson and state Sen. Raymond Lesniak each get 4.

Among Republicans, Guadagno leads comedian Joe Piscopo 28 to 18.

Carroll said don’t count out the “Saturday Night Live” alum just yet.

“Remember the ‘B picture’ star Ronald Reagan? Well he became president of the United States.”

The poll also finds most Jersey voters continue to turn thumbs down on Christie. His approval rating is at 17 percent.

“We asked voters to give him a letter grade and the Quinnipiac numbers show a majority give him D or F.”

  • 3 percent give him an A
  • 14 percent give him a B
  • 25 percent give him a C
  • 25 percent give him a D
  • 31 percent give him an F

The poll also finds New Jersey voters disapprove of the job President Donald Trump is doing with less than 100 days into his term — 59 to 34 percent.

“Cory Booker is the most popular, the most respected politician in New Jersey at the moment,” said Carroll, with 57 percent approval and 31 percent disapproval.

The survey also finds 45 percent of voters approve of the job U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez is doing, while 34 percent disapprove.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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