Monmouth University pollster who claimed Phil Murphy had 8 point lead: I blew it

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5 mins read
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy

WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ – Patrick Murray, the pollster behind the Monmouth University Poll that had Democrat Phil Murphy 8 points ahead of Republican Jack Ciattarelli days before the 2021 election is now saying he blew it, apologizing for his error.

“I blew it. The final Monmouth University Poll margin did not provide an accurate picture of the state of the governor’s race. So, if you are 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,” Patrick Murray said in a letter to the New Jersey Star Ledger. “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.”

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Related: Trump factor weighs heavily on Ciattarelli defeat by Phil Murphy in New Jersey

In the end, Patrick will have oversold the Murphy victory by about 7 or 8 points as Ciattarelli is now 3% down as ballot-counting continues.

Ciattarelli’s campaign consultant, Jackson Township resident Chris Russell slammed pollsters and the media that published the Monmouth University Poll.

“No surprise that some in the media who swore @GovMurphy was winning in a landslide 48 hours ago are now willing to swallow the hook on this. The Gov’s own CM, @mollieb45 , said just 10 hours ago that they wanted “all the votes counted”? Did she leave out “till we’re ahead”? #NJGov,” Russell tweeted. “It’s time for some accountability and hard questions. Anyone who thinks that the cacophony of stories drilling home bogus polling numbers for months does not have an impact on turnout, fundraising, etc. – likely for both parties – is kidding themselves.”

Ironically when the Monmouth poll was released, Shore News Network reached out to Russell via his personal cell phone. Russell did not respond. So, you can’t blame the media for not giving the other side of a poll when the man complaining about the poll doesn’t want to give you his side.

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Russell claims the polls against Ciattarelli hurt the campaign’s ability to raise money and thus pay Russell more money to complain about bad polls.

Murray rejected Russell’s claims.

“I take my responsibility as a public pollster seriously. Some partisan critics think we have some agenda about who wins or loses. I can only assume they have never met a public pollster. The thing that keeps us up at night — our “religion” as it were — is simply getting the numbers right,” he added. “Unlike a campaign consultant [Russell], my job is not to figure out a candidate’s best path to victory, but to provide an explanation of the public mood as it exists now. Polling continues to do that quite well when we are taking a snapshot of the full population. For example, polls on the impact of COVID and attitudes toward vaccines over the past year and a half provided an accurate picture of shifting behaviors that directly impacted public health.”

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Patrick added, election polling is a different animal, prone to its fair share of misses if you focus only on the margins. For example, Monmouth’s polls four years ago nailed the New Jersey gubernatorial race but significantly underestimated Democratic performance in the Virginia contest. This year, our final polls provided a reasonable assessment of where the Virginia race was headed but missed the spike in Republican turnout in New Jersey.

In the end, it wasn’t pollsters that hurt Jack Ciattarelli, our in-depth analysis shows it was probably Jack Ciattarelli who hurt Jack Ciattarelli the most on Tuesday.