Gov. Murphy underperformed in Bergen County. Here’s what may have gone wrong

Besides a big surge of voters in heavily Republican areas for Jack Ciattarelli, another reason for the tight race with Gov. Phil Murphy was the governor’s underperformance in areas where he won by wide margins four years ago. One of those areas was Bergen County.
Murphy won Bergen County by only around 11,000 votes. News 12 New Jersey’s Brian Donohue went to a diner in Paramus to ask Bergen County residents their thoughts on the election.
“We are [President Joe] Biden supporters and we are supporters still of Murphy,” said diner Rachel.
But Donohue noted that Rachel seemed to hesitate when saying that she supported the governor.
“You’re a good reporter,” she said. “You know, everybody screws up."
Guy McEachem said that he voted for Murphy but that there was some ambivalence in his circle of friends and family.
“There were a lot of people I know who weren’t sure who to vote for because of the way things are going,” he said.
In 2017, Murphy won Bergen County by 34,000 votes. This time, the margin was quite lower. Repeated across the state, those numbers cut into the governor’s totals and have left the race very close.
Others in the diner indicated that they did not like the direction the state was taking.
“New Jersey’s fed up with the taxes and the way [Murphy] handled COVID. It’s not right. The lockdowns didn’t help either,” one diner said.
Some Ciattarelli voters told Donohue that they were motivated by Murphy being seemingly out of touch on New Jersey’s tax burden.
“I think Murphy said some pretty stupid things. And what he said about people who don’t like taxes shouldn’t be in Jersey killed him,” another diner said.
Donohue says that a surprising number of people mentioned critical race theory, a legal theory taught in law schools that they fear will be taught to school children in New Jersey. He said it was evidence that the national conservative talking point got Ciattarelli voters fired up.
“I did not vote for Murphy because he is far left. What they want to do in school systems. Those were the calls I was getting the whole time during the election,” said one Ciattarelli supporter.
The Associated Press called the race for Murphy just before 7 p.m. on Wednesday.