Murphy expected to highlight differences in approach to COVID-19

Governor also likely to focus on other issues that matter to his base

Vying for a second term, Gov. Phil Murphy holds a lead in the polls as he goes into Tuesday night’s debate with Republican Party challenger Jack Ciattarelli. Murphy is expected in the debate to steer the discussion to the differences between his COVID-19 prevention strategies and those laid out by his opponent.

Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said issues that might otherwise be an Achilles heel for Murphy pale in comparison to the high marks that New Jersey residents give him for his handling of COVID-19. “There are a couple weaknesses, the weakness on the cost of living in the state, taxes in the state are areas where, if this was a normal election and we didn’t have a pandemic, that Jack Ciattarelli, I think, could have made some strides on getting voters to focus on those issues. And this is the problem; it’s not that Phil Murphy is strong on those issues, it’s that those issues are simply not as important to voters,” Murray said.

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