Gov. Phil Murphy was reelected in a tight race which was called by the Associated Press (AP) at 6:26 p.m. on Wednesday, almost a full day after polls closed.
Competitor Jack Ciattarelli’s campaign said the call was “irresponsible,” given how close the race was and votes had not finished being counted. The remainder were coming from predominantly Democratic areas like Essex County.
“I don’t think the close margin is all Murphy’s fault,” says Joe Ferreri, junior. “I believe it is a direct reaction of Biden’s historically low approval rating.”
Bergen County was a close call, with Murphy winning by only 4.2 points. The county was 16 points in the blue during the recent presidential election, and has approximately 150,000 more registered Democrats than Republican voters.
Voting concerns were raised Tuesday night from the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU NJ) and League of Women Voters (LWV), according to Asbury Park Press (APP). A lawsuit was filed claiming voters were being turned away from polling locations due to issues with new voting machines and electronic tablets used for check-in.
Some locations allegedly opened later than 6 a.m. because of these issues. The lawsuit requested that polling deadlines be extended to 9:30 p.m., but Superior Court Judge William Anklowitz dismissed the claim.
“I can't find that anybody would be disenfranchised based on the evidence provided," Anklowitz said, according to APP.
For the first time, New Jersey offered early voting, which over 200,000 voters took advantage of, according to nj.com. The additional nine days of voting aimed to make performing the civic duty more available than ever, though it showed little difference on overall voter turnout.
As of Monday, Nov. 1, approximately 700,000 votes had already been cast between early in-person voting and mail-in ballots. Murphy considered this “a really big step in the right direction in terms of democracy,” according to nj.com.
Murphy had, in his favor, more than a million more voters registered as Democrats than Republicans. This advantage may not have been as influential as most would have expected. Murphy is well-versed in New Jersey’s voting history, and told AP he would “run like we're 10 points down.”
Historical trends suggested a Republican would win this election, as AP reported New Jersey’s governor has opposed the party of the president's office since 1985. Murphy’s win breaks the 44-year trend of democrat New Jersey governors not earning reelection.
As was often discussed in the debates, Murphy says his next term will focus on abortion rights, gun control and using tax dollars to finance Pre-K for 3-year-olds. A win from Ciattarelli could have meant big changes in the state, including intimated lifting of mask and vaccine mandates.
“I think going forward, Murphy needs to fulfill a lot of promises he made before the pandemic changed his priorities,” says Jared Berberabe, senior. “Assuming we get to a point where we can roll back on these precautions once enough people are vaccinated, Murphy would need to fulfill a lot of his progressive agenda to train his moderate and progressive base.”