A Wide-Swinging Pendulum: a Short Recent History of NJ Prez Politics

Clinton travelled to NJ to support Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

Clinton travelled to NJ to support Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Veteran Essex County operative Tom Barrett likes to point out that Bill Clinton turned New Jersey into a blue state, but poll numbers released today by Monmouth University show Clinton’s wife, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on shaky ground in the Garden State.

It seems remarkable now in light of subsequent results but consider the following turnout numbers in the 1992 general election: Republican President George Herbert Walker Bush received 1,356,865 or 40.58% in New Jersey, compared to 1,436,206 or 43% for Clinton.

In just pulling out the win after spending a considerable amount of time campaigning here. Clinton drew his biggest pluralities out of Essex (143,847 to 48,374), Hudson (122,049 to 24,032) and Middlesex (118,876 to 42,168). Middlesex had long been key to prior Republican statewide victories and the heart of the so-called Reagan Democrats.

Those 1992 New Jersey results occurred after Republicans won six straight New Jersey general presidential elections: Richard Nixon over Hubert Humphrey in 1968; Nixon over Democrat George McGovern in 1972; Gerald Ford over Jimmy Carter in 1976; Ronald Reagan over Jimmy Carter in 1980 (1,546,557 to 1,147,364); Reagan over Democrat Walter Mondale (1,933,630 to 1,261,323); and Bush over Democrat Mike Dukakis (1,743,192 to 1,320,352).

Having stopped the bleeding by his party in 1996, Clinton stretched his statewide vote totals to 550,000 over Republican challenger Bob Dole.

The pendulum continued to swing away from the GOP and to date never swung back in prez results.

In 2000, Democrat Al Gore defeated Republican George W. Bush 1,788,850 to 1,284,173. In 2004, in a closer, wartime general election, Democrat John Kerry received 1,911,430 votes to Bush’s 1670,003. President Barack Obama put New Jersey’s general election totals into orbit: 2,215,422, compared to 1,613,207 for Republican John McCain.

In 2012, Obama defeated Romney 2,125,101 to 1,477,568 for Republican Mitt Romney.