The first debate between the two leading gubernatorial candidates, Democrat Phil Murphy and Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, takes place Tuesday night.

So far there’s been almost no interest in the race at all, and many voters still don’t even know who is running .

Why has this race for governor been such a tune-out?

According to Ben Dworkin, a political science professor at Rider University, there are a few reasons for this.

“The race itself doesn’t seem particularly close. Murphy has been far ahead in the polls and even as they tighten now, they’ve tightened to where it’s now a 10-point race. People get more interested when they feel their vote is going to make a difference when the race is close," he says.

“Another reason why very few people are paying attention is neither side has really come up with a policy idea that has sparked the imagination of the public.”

He noted Murphy has come up with the idea of creating a state bank and Guadagno is pushing the idea of creating a “circuit breaker” to help with property taxes. But critics point out the candidates are not providing many details about their plans.

He said another reason for the lack of interest in the gubernatorial race is the ongoing focus on President Donald Trump.

“What is happening in Washington takes up all the oxygen in the political discussion, because every day there seems to be something new coming out of Washington. There simply isn’t a lot of space or time to cover New Jersey.”

Gov. Chris Christie has pointed out that “there’s a lot of negativity in our country right now about politics in general coming off the presidential race and I think there’s also a bit of a hangover."

He added part of the lack of interest in the race is due to the candidates themselves.

“People are not finding the campaign exciting, then that’s what you see with a lot of folks not even knowing who the candidates are.”

Christie noted he hasn’t seen many signs put out on people’s lawns, and there isn’t even much talk about the election at all.

“It’s a worrisome sign because the person who is the governor of New Jersey is a really important person, and we’re going to want to make sure we pick the best one.”

Also on New Jersey 101.5:


You can contact reporter David Matthau at