Nov 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

NJ pollster apologizes after close governor's race: "I blew it"

CNN's John King is shown at his Magic Wall during an election-night event for Gov. Phil Murphy in Asbury Park, N.J., on Tuesday.
CNN's John King is shown at his Magic Wall during an election-night event for Gov. Phil Murphy in Asbury Park, N.J., on Tuesday. Photo: Angus Mordant/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute on the Jersey Shore, wrote an op-ed for The (Newark) Star-Ledger apologizing for a poll six days before the election that said Gov. Phil Murphy "maintains a sizable lead" over Republican Jack Ciattarelli.

Why it matters: The poll had Murphy up by 11. The race wasn't called until Wednesday evening. With 99% of the vote in, Murphy is up by 1 point.

What they're saying: Murray, who has headed polling since 2005, writes that if you're "a Republican who believes the polls cost Ciattarelli an upset victory or a Democrat who feels we lulled your base into complacency, feel free to vent. I hear you":

I owe an apology to Jack Ciattarelli's campaign — and to Phil Murphy's campaign for that matter — because inaccurate public polling can have an impact on fundraising and voter mobilization efforts. But most of all I owe an apology to the voters of New Jersey for information that was at the very least misleading.

What we're watching: "If we cannot be certain that these polling misses are anomalies," the pollster writes, "then we have a responsibility to consider whether releasing horse race numbers in close proximity to an election is making a positive or negative contribution to the political discourse."

Go deeper ... By the numbers: N.J. close call

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