This was cross posted at http://frogandturtle.blogspot….
Here is my next and last post in analyzing county by county why Christie beat Corzine in New Jersey. Here is my first post: http://swingstateproject.com/s…
Here is the link to the 2008 election results (red is Democratic and blue is Republican)http://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/
Here is the link to the 2009 election results: http://http://uselectionatlas….
Here is the link for New Jersey demographics by county: http://http://quickfacts.censu…
Urban New Jersey
This area contains Union, Essex and Hudson Counties. Christie underperformed the most in this part of the state with Corzine winning it almost 2-1. This was no surprise because Urban New Jersey is by far the most Democratic part of the state. It is minority majority and mostly resembles a city instead of suburbs. Christie also was unable to make large inroads here. In Hudson County where Obama won 73%-26%, Corzine won 69%-27% which only shows a decrease in the Democratic margin by 5 points, the smallest decrease of any county in New Jersey from 2008 to 2009. Hudson County is 35% White, one of the smallest percentages in New Jersey. Christie had a difficult time making inroads among minority voters. The main reason for Christie’s small increase is that Corzine lives in Hoboken, a really nice town in Hudson County where many of transplants from Manhattan live. Corzine’s proximity was a large factor in Hudson County. Since Christie had a difficult time winning minority voters, it appears that Republicans can still win in New Jersey without having to make inroads among minorities if they want to win. Essex County which contains heavily Democratic Newark voted 67%-28% for Corzine while Obama won there 76%-23%. This shows a 14 point decrease in the Democratic margin, only 5 points below the statewide decrease of 19 points. Even though Corzine appeared to hold minorities, there are many independent high income white voters in the western part of Essex County that trended heavily toward Christie, causing the Democratic margin in Essex County to shrink. Union County is where Christie performed the best, decreasing Obama’s 28 point margin to an eight point margin for Corzine. While Union County contains Elizabeth and Plainfield, two cities with large minority populations, Union County is basically Somerset County in the west with heavily white and high income Westfield and Summit. In my post about what to watch for in the New Jersey gubernatorial race, I said Corzine had to win Union County but ten points or more and unfortunately, he did not. Overall, Corzine did very well in Urban New Jersey by preventing Christie from making large inroads among minorities.
Northern New Jersey
Except for Passaic and Bergen Counties, Christie did very well here. He pulled a combined margin of about 30,000 votes out of Sussex and Warren Counties, even though Daggett did very well in them winning 9% and 10% of the vote there. Christie won his home county, Morris by 28 points and its residents are mostly high income white voters. The trend towards Christie over 2008 was 19 points, the same as the overall trend towards him in New Jersey. The reason for the trend not being too sharp in Morris County is party due to Daggett’s strong 8% of the vote here and that Christie appeared to spend more time campaigning on the Shore than here. Passaic County is a different story where Corzine won 51%-44% and Obama won there by 22 points. Passaic County is a mixture of Hispanic immigrants in the city of Paterson and high income white voters in the suburbs along with some working class white voters. The Hispanics probably kept Passaic County from trending too far to the right but it appears that Christie did very well with white voters and Corzine failed to excite the base enough. Corzine won Bergen County by 3 points, only a 6 point decrease from Obama’s 9 point win. Corzine was definitely helped by his running mate Loretta Weinberg who has held political office in Bergen County for more than 20 years. Bergen County is full of high income white voters and if Weinberg were not on the ballot, Christie would probably win Bergen County by about 7 points. Weinberg was not perfect because she was unpopular with party bosses which probably contributed to low turnout in Democratic areas. Also, Corzine’s close proximity in Hudson County may have swayed a few voters.
So overall, what happened to make Corzine lose? On the issues, people swayed towards Christie not because he was a fantastic candidate. In New Jersey, almost all campaigns are negative so the candidates spent most of their time criticizing each other. People believed Corzine was an ineffective Governor who caused the New Jersey economy to sour while he sat in his office counting all his money. Also, Corzine made the mistake of not appeasing the New Jersey Democratic Party. If he had chosen a popular party official as his running mate instead of Weinberg who was unpopular with the party, Corzine may have been able to boost turnout enough to offset Christie’s margins. A good person for running mate would be Richard Codey who was the New Jersey Senate President. He was active Governor in 2005 and he is extremely popular with New Jersey’s Democratic Party. He was even considered last August as a candidate to replace Corzine on the ballot. The turnout levels in Democratic counties was about 50%-60% of the 2008 Presidential election turnout while turnout in Republican counties was closer to 66%. Christie on his part excited the base because he portrayed himself as one of the voters on the Shore or in the high income suburbs. He also took independents by highlighting New Jersey’s poor economy. The main reason though is that Christie swept the high income voters who trended towards the Democrats in the 1990’s because the Republicans were too socially Conservative. Now that the Republicans are downplaying their social Conservatism and highlighting the poor economy, they are able to win in the Northeast suburbs again. Democrats do not need to completely focus on the suburban voter, they just need to win enough of them to lower Republican margins. If Democrats want to start winning in New Jersey again, they have to excite the base while also reaching out to the white high income socially moderate but economically Conservative suburban voter.