What Chris Christie’s Victory Could Mean

Looking at the tallies over in New Jersey, it’s pretty amazing, and should give the Democratic Party some pause. Democrats have been very successful at making gains among middle class suburbanites, and among the very wealthy, especially in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and the West Coast. Most of this was because Bill Clinton captured a lot of the issues those voters cared about from the Republican Party, such as balanced budgets, free trade, and welfare reform. Following up with George W. Bush, who was very successful at continuing to drive suburban Republicans and Independents more into the Democratic camp, made the situation even worse. That might be changing based on the numbers I’ve seen. Let’s look at some of the counties in New Jersey:

  • Bergen County: Borders New York City. Ought to be a blowout for Corzine. Corzine wins, but only by 2.2% points. Obama took this county by 9 points in 2008.
  • Middlesex County: Located in Northeast New Jersey. Christie took this county by 3.7% points. In 2008, Obama took this county by 21 percentage points.
  • Somerset County: Located just west of Middlesex Co. Christie won by 22 percentage points. Obama took this county in 2009 by 7 points.
  • Mercer County: Richest county in the state, located adjacent to Bucks County, PA in central New Jersey. Contains Trenton and Princeton. Corzine still won, but only by 16%. Obama took Mercer County by an amazing 37 points.
  • Monmonth County: Located in central New Jersey, along the shore. Contains Asbury Park. Christie won by 31 points. This county did go for McCain in 2008, but only by 3 percentage points.
  • Burlington County: Across from Philadelphia, largely a suburb of Philadelphia. Chris Christie took it by 2.6 percentage points. In 2008, Obama took this county by 19 points.
  • Camden County: Across from Philadelphia. Home to the scenic City of Camden. Corzine won this county by 14 points, but Obama won it by 37 points.
  • Gloucester County: South Jersey. Across from Delaware County, PA, and New Castle County, DE. Christie took it by 3.4 percentage points despite Obama winning by 13 points.
  • Salem County: Across from Delaware, South Jersey. Christie by 6.5%. Obama took Salem County by 4 points.
  • Atlantic County: Along the South Jersey shore, north of Cape May County. Historically regarded as a Republican County, Obama managed to take it by a surprising margin of 15 points, but Christie won it by 3.5 points.

Looking at vote totals, this is almost entirely a story of Democratic voters just not showing up to the polls. Considering how much capital Obama and the Dems dumped into saving Corzine, and how much money Corzine spent on this race, it is not at all good news for Democrats to have lost so much ground. Combine this with Republican showings in the ring counties around Philadelphia just across the river, and it spells out of a story of GOP voters, and Independent voters who lean GOP being far more motivated to show up to the polls. In New Jersey, the counties where Democrats lost the most are just the type of middle class suburban counties that Democrats have made significant gains with. The erosion of support in very wealthy counties like Mercer show that Democrats need to be worried about their support among the rich too, even though they were still able to win there. That might not be the case in wealthy counties that aren’t as strongly blue.

Next we’ll take a look at how the GOP fared in the Philadelphia ring counties.

4 thoughts on “What Chris Christie’s Victory Could Mean”

  1. Looking at vote totals, this is almost entirely a story of Democratic voters just not showing up to the polls.

    And here I was telling my mom to pray for a foot of snow to suddenly fall across North Jersey yesterday. I figured since polls showed that Corzine’s voters weren’t hugely motivated, something like rain would cause them to stay home. Turns out the only hurdle they needed for an excuse was Corzine himself.

  2. Yeah – it was excellent weather for a vote; and the polls are held open late for all the commuters.

  3. Perhaps another reason why Corzine didn’t get the votes was because ACORN was being investigated and couldn’t do all they could to vote early and vote often.

  4. The last poll I saw on “how’s the governor doing” had Corzine at 40% approval.

    He got 45% of the vote.

    Think about that for a few seconds. You might conclude that how an election turns out has a bit more to do with comparisons of the two candidates than raw popularity numbers.

    Democrats may be in trouble next year, but do not discount the prevailing anti-incumbency feeling in this country that has existed for at least 20 years, if not longer. The GOP got the short end of the “throw the bums out” stick in `06 and `08. The Democrats are set to be hammered with it in `10.

    If one does not acknowledge the point that voters often enforce a rough set of term limits, then one may be tempted to make a mistake by believing one’s own ideology to be a winner.

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