Yes the governor’s race was close. And it produced a lot of hand-wringing on the part of many who were hoping for a wider margin of victory. This is about mistaken expectations.
The Monmouth poll, the NJ polling gold standard is the immediate problem. Their prediction of 'Dems up by 9 points' has distorted much of the post-election commentary. If the last poll had said something like 'Murphy up by 4 or 5 points, error margin +/- 3 ', and then he had won by 2 points (which seems to be the case), people would be saying 'wow, that was close' without all the OMGs. The poll set completely unrealistic (ie. wrong) expectations.
Murphy ran on his progressive agenda from 2017. He campaigned publicly with Bernie Sanders who called him the most progressive governor in the country. He did not run to the middle which is the usual Democratic response when opponents drag out the “far left” label. And he won! With a more cooperative legislature (Good-bye Mr. Sweeney), hopefully more good legislation will get passed giving more people a reason to vote. And perhaps fewer people might vote for a party whose primary response to human need is to protect us from masks.