Twenty point margin in a blue state? Check.
Win the Latino vote? Check.
Win women, perform well among union members and young voters? Check.
Win these same voters in a hypothetical 2016 presidential match-up? Oops.
Takeaway: Issues like same-sex marriage, abortion, and minimum wage are not all that important to Democratic-leaning voters in New Jersey when they vote for governor. [Something Barbara Buono never quite figured out.] However, these issues become very relevant to these same “blue” voting blocs when they consider Christie as potential presidential timber.
There were none. Zip. Zero. Nada. In the first district, Assemblyman Nelson Albano was hoisted on his own petard. It looks like there may be one GOP pick-up in the 38th that could be attributed to coattails. That’s it.
The Democrats saw the Christie tsunami coming and realized they needed to ride that wave to survive. They used his own “bipartisanship” mantra to tout their cooperation with the governor on key points. Their GOTV effort worked hard to get voters to split their tickets – voting Republican for governor and Democratic for legislature.
The South Jersey incumbent legislators were particularly adept at this. Take a look at the vote totals from the state’s five southernmost counties (Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Salem, Gloucester). According to the unofficial results, Christie won these five counties with 143,799 votes to 76,623 for Buono. However, the Democratic candidates for state Senate in these counties took 117,316 votes to 97,696 for the GOP slate.
That means about 40,000 voters supported the Republican for governor and the Democrats for senate. In other words, nearly 1-in-5 voters who went to the polls in those counties yesterday split their tickets – an amazing feat!
Just 38% of registered voters showed up yesterday. That compares to 47% in 2009 – which set a then-record low for a governor’s race in New Jersey. Yesterday’s turnout is now the absolute lowest turnout on record of any November election where a statewide office (Governor/US Senate) topped the ballot. The special Senate election three weeks ago – at 24% turnout – set the all-time low for any general election regardless of which office topped the ballot.
Looked at another way, Gov. Christie won the support of 23% of registered voters to 15% for Buono, whereas 6-in-10 registered voters apparently cast their ballots for “meh!”
Countervailing messages came out of yesterday’s election. “The Governor” was a very powerful brand, but not much beyond that. I fully expect that Team Christie will successfully highlight the positive and downplay the negative, as they have been doing for the past four years.