As Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno announces today that she will run for governor, she enters a race in which building significant name recognition will be an uphill battle for each and every candidate, including herself. When last asked by the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll for their impressions of (then) prospective and declared gubernatorial candidates, New Jersey voters were largely unaware of any of the major players.
Guadagno has remained widely unknown throughout the past two terms despite frequently serving as acting governor in recent years. In the most recent Rutgers-Eagleton Poll from November 2016, 55 percent of New Jersey voters did not know who Guadagno was; another 17 percent knew her, but they had no opinion of her. Among the small fraction of voters who did have some recollection of her, 13 percent were favorable, and 15 percent were unfavorable.
Former U.S. Ambassador Phil Murphy on the Democratic side faired little better. In the fall, 64 percent did not know of Murphy despite his early campaigning efforts, and another 18 percent had no opinion of him. Twelve percent were favorable toward Murphy, while 6 percent were unfavorable.
Recognition is even more of a problem for Assemblymen Ciattarelli and Wisniewski. Eighty percent were unaware of who Ciattarelli was in the same November poll; just 2 percent were favorable, 4 percent were unfavorable, and 14 percent did not take a side. Wisniewski was unknown by 67 percent of voters in the state; 8 percent had a favorable impression, 7 percent had an unfavorable one, and 18 percent had no opinion.
Results were from a statewide poll of 772 adults contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Oct. 28 to Nov. 3, 2016, including 694 registered voters reported on in this release. The sample had a margin of error of +/-4.1 percentage points. Interviews were done in English and, when requested, Spanish.