The New Jersey governor’s race, which is one of only two governor races in the country ahead of next year’s midterm elections, is seen by some as an early barometer of voter sentiment.
Gov. Philip D. Murphy, a Democrat, tried to hit Jack Chiattarelli, a Republican challenging his re-election bid, to President Donald Trump, who lost 16 points to President Biden in New Jersey.
But the New Jersey election also offers one of the first statewide scrutiny to see how voters feel about the strict coronavirus-related mandates as pandemic fatigue grows.
Voters interviewed in the polls continued to give Mr Murphy some of the highest ratings for how he responded to the pandemic, and he said that, in his opinion, this was the most defining issue separating him and Mr Chiatarelli. …
Last week, Mr Murphy refused to remove the Covid-19 vaccination requirement for students, a move taken only by California, where vaccinations will be compulsory for school attendance next fall.
However, on the Jersey Shore in Ocean County, where Trump scored nearly 30 points, it is still easy to find prohibition signs that say “Free the Smiles.” And across the state, some local education board meetings have become tense as parents oppose the wearing of masks in schools, clashing with officials who must enforce the state’s mandate.
Registered Democrats in New Jersey outnumber Republicans by nearly 1.1 million voters, giving Mr. Murphy an inherent advantage that several polls have shown Mr. Chiatarelli is trying to overcome.
A report released Friday by the Covid States Project, researching and tracking multiple universities, found governors of vaccine-banned states, including Arkansas, Arizona and Idaho, received the lowest approval ratings.