BERGEN COUNTY – In the county traditionally considered the bellwether in state elections, competing party chairmen focused on one group on Election Day: undecided voters. Almost half of Bergen County’s voters are unaffiliated, a local phenomenon that impacts countywide election strategy.
“We can only win in Bergen County now if we convince the unaffiliated voter to break our way,” said Bergen County Republican Chairman Bob Yudin, noting that Democrats continue to hold a considerable voter registration advantage in Bergen. “My entire emphasis this campaign was direct mail to unaffiliated voters. We sent out over 250,000 pieces in five waves of mailing, concentrated on property taxes, all to unaffiliated voters.”
“I don’t think the undecideds are going Christie’s way, because if you haven’t made a decision about him by now, you never will,” countered Bergen County Democratic Chairman Lou Stellato, who said that “hundreds” of campaign workers have been deployed in traditional Bergen Democratic strongholds such as Hackensack, Teaneck, Englewood, Cliffside Park and Fort Lee.
Well aware of the potential of Christie’s coattails sweeping Republicans into power in the Legislature, Stellato assessed the Democrats’ chances of holding off the GOP in Bergen, where Christie lost by a slim 6,000-vote margin in the 2009 gubernatorial race.
“I don’t know if you can stop this tsunami, but we’re sure not giving up,” Stellato said. “You have to remember that four years ago, the Democratic lieutenant governor candidate was [State Sen.] Loretta Weinberg (D – Bergen). There was some Bergen County pride at stake at the time. But this is a different election at a different time.”