The New Jersey’s governor’s race puts mandates to a political test.
New Jersey’s governor’s race, which is one of just two governor’s races in the country before next year’s midterm elections, is seen by some as an early barometer of voter sentiment.
Gov. Philip D. Murphy, a Democrat, has tried to lash Jack Ciattarelli, a Republican challenging his bid for re-election, to President Donald J. Trump, who lost to President Biden in New Jersey by 16 points.
But New Jersey’s election also offers one of the first statewide tests of how voters feel about strict coronavirus-related mandates as pandemic fatigue mounts.
Voters surveyed in polls continued to give Mr. Murphy some of his highest marks for the way he has responded to the pandemic, and he has said he believed it was the most defining issue separating him and Mr. Ciattarelli.
Last week, Mr. Murphy refused to rule out a Covid-19 vaccine mandate for students, a step taken only by California, where, as early as next fall, vaccination will be required to attend school.
Still, along the Jersey Shore in Ocean County, where Mr. Trump won by nearly 30 points, it remains easy to find anti-mask yard signs that read “Free the Smiles.” And across the state some local board of education meetings have grown tense with parents opposed to mask wearing in schools clashing with officials who are required to enforce the state mandate.
A report released Friday by the Covid States Project, a research and tracking effort by several universities, found that governors of states with prohibitions on vaccine mandates, including Arkansas, Arizona and Idaho, got the lowest approval ratings.