Nov 3, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Democrat Phil Murphy re-elected as New Jersey governor after razor-thin race

 New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy won his re-election bid Wednesday, defeating Republican challenger and former state legislator Jack Ciattarelli in a razor-thin race that sent shockwaves through the Democratic Party, according to AP.

Why it matters: While Murphy inched out a win in a state President Biden won by almost 16 points in 2020, the close race sends a warning to Democrats ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

What happened: The New Jersey race garnered little national attention until Murphy's significant initial polling lead began to wane in recent weeks, dropping to a six-point lead among likely voters in a late-October poll by Emerson College and PIX 11.

  • The two candidates were largely neck and neck as results rolled in Tuesday, with the race still too close to call by early Wednesday. AP called the race Wednesday night.
  • Worth noting: The election was the first time New Jersey held early in-person voting.

The big picture: The nail-biting win for Murphy comes after a largely disappointing night for Democrats, with Republican Glenn Youngkin defeating Democrat Terry McAuliffe in a huge upset in Virginia's governor's race.

  • "From Virginia to New Jersey to Minnesota, voters in Tuesday's off-year elections sent Democrats a warning for 2022: There could be a massive backlash to perceptions that progressives are pulling the party too far left," Axios Margaret Talev reports.

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