Incumbent Phil Murphy wins NJ gubernatorial race but democrats suffer major losses

The narrow victory could signal larger obstacles facing the Democratic party

Murphy on election night

Photo courtesy of the AP

Murphy on election night

Lauren Noble, News Editor

Incumbent Governor Phil Murphy was declared victorious in the New Jersey gubernatorial election as announced by the Associated Press on Wednesday, following a surprisingly tight race closing off with Murphy in a 2.6% lead. More than 2.4 million of New Jersey’s registered voters are unaffiliated to a political party of the state’s approximate 6.5 million registered voters, many of whom were in the spotlight for political parties.

This is the first time the state has had a democratic incumbent since 1977.

Regardless of Murphy’s assumed victory, nothing can be finalized until November 15, the deadline for counties’ final vote total’s official certification. The factor that could alter the presumed election results are the vote-by-mail ballots that can be accepted until November 8, if postmarked by Election Day. reports that provisional ballots also still need to be counted— paper ballots used when a voter’s eligibility to vote cannot be determined at the polls or if they have applied for a vote-by-mail ballot. If the voter who cast the provisional ballot is determined eligible to vote after the election, their vote will be counted.

As of November 7, the results of the election show that Murphy is victorious with a 50.92% vote, Ciatterelli closely following with a 48.32% vote, and 0.77% of remaining votes made up by Madelyn Hoffman of the Green Party, Gregg Mele of the Libertarian Party and Joanne Kuniansky of the Socialist Workers Party, according to New York Times.

In this year’s election, voters were motivated by pandemic restrictions, the economy, taxes and social issues. Murphy’s handling of COVID-19 played a major part in voter consideration, as residents of New Jersey are heavily divided on the issue. 

Asbury Park Press shares examples of the contrasting opinions of New Jersey voters: Raul Rebustillos, a 68-year-old Toms River resident said ‘I voted because of what the governor had done to us, closing everything, not giving us the rights to do anything.’” Contrarily, ​​Charles DeNise, a 44-year resident of Toms River said “‘He [Murphy] was a driving force in the initial stages, and I think a lot of what he did in the beginning is starting to pay dividends … New Jersey is at the forefront of controlling this pandemic, and I think he’s the man.’”

Ciattarelli has yet to concede the election, calling Murphy’s declaration of victory “premature” in a video statement released Thursday evening. 

According to North Jersey, “under New Jersey law, a candidate has 17 days to apply for a recount if they ‘have reason to believe that an error has been made in counting the votes of that election.’ Nov. 19 is 17 days from the election.”

Ciattarelli states in the video that he will not be calling for a recount until after all of the counties have counted all provisional and mail-in ballots, which will be finalized in the coming weeks, if deemed necessary. 

“I promise you, whatever the outcome, the election result will be legal and fair, you have my word,’ Ciattarelli said in his statement. “Hopefully we will be fixing New Jersey together.”

After the AP proclaimed Murphy to be the winner, Ciattarelli continued to anticipate the polls to be affected by the amount of mail-in and provisional ballots.

Despite Murphy’s victory, the Republican party made a serious impact on solid-blue turf throughout the state. Once-blue counties including Gloucester, Cumberland and Atlantic all went for Ciattarelli; Murphy’s margin went from 13 counties in 2017 to 10 this year. 

Murphy is on track to be reelected as New Jersey’s Governor, but votes yet to be counted or a recount by Ciattarelli could possibly shift the election to the right.