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What the New Jersey Gubernatorial Contest tells us about the political landscape


In the October days following the presidential election, the gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey are the focus of national political attention.

There is a close race in Virginia this year that is getting a lot of attention, with the Democrats fighting to stay in power; There is very little in New Jersey where incumbent Democratic Governor Phil Murphy is believed to win, with the party retaining its advantage in the state legislature.

New Jersey is part of a realignment in American politics over the past three decades. States with large numbers of minorities and high-income higher educated voters that were once competitive or even Republican inclined are now solidly democratic; the Garden State and California are two prime examples.

Conversely, culturally conservative states with less educated voters like West Virginia and Arkansas switched from blue to deep red.

In New Jersey, more than 40 percent of the population is non-white, as is nearly 30 percent of the electorate. Blacks, Hispanics and Asians have overwhelmingly voted democratic.

Once the subject of nighttime comedians for its toxic dumps and mafiosos, New Jersey is the most suburban state in America and one of the top three wealthiest. Northern New Jersey is a high-tech hub and home to lawyers and finance managers who commute to New York. These suburbs are democratic, a trend that is being accelerated by Donald TrumpDonald TrumpHouse Votes to Raise Debt Ceiling Georgia Reporter Says State “Will Continue To Be a Leading Battleground”.

The Republicans won six consecutive presidential elections in New Jersey from 1968 to 1988 when George HW Bush won the state by 13.5 points. The congress delegation was divided fairly evenly at the time.

After that, the Democrats won eight presidential competitions in New Jersey. Biden beat Donald Trump last November by 57 percent to 41 percent. The Democrats have a 10 to 2 advantage in the US House of Representatives delegation – one of the Republicans has switched parties. There has not been an elected GOP Senator from New Jersey in nearly 50 years.

Alvin Felzenberg, who worked for and wrote a book about popular Republican Governor Tom Kean in the 1980s, says those suburban Republicans who formed the “backbone” of Kean’s support “either left the party or died.” The new residents, he notes, are leaning towards Democrats as the party has shifted more towards moderate progressives like Senators Corey Booker and Murphy (a role model was Bill Bradley, the hugely popular senator and basketball great who ended up year three Terms of office served in the 20th century.)

John Farmer, director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University, agrees, adding that “the GOP’s identification with Trump has harmed the party,” particularly in recent congressional competitions.

Murphy’s predecessor, two terms Gov. Chris ChristieChris ChristieChristie: 2020 Joe Biden “is now officially dead and buried” Christie, Pompeo named co-chair of GOP redistribution group Christie: Biden’s New Vaccine Mandate Will “Harden” Opposition MORE – once seen as the leader of a republican revival – eventually cost the party. He left his post four years ago, immensely unpopular, entangled in controversy and scandals. He ran an embarrassingly bad 2016 presidential primary race, dropped out, and hugged Trump – who declined to nominate him to a post.

Felzenberg sees Christie negatively today: “His connection to Trump will stick to him like glue.”

Jack Ciattarelli, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, is a former lawmaker who recognized this Joe BidenJoe BidenHouse Votes To Hike The Debt Limit For The Money – House To Kill Overnight Health Care Through December – Presented By The National Council for Mental Wellbeing – Progressive: Expanding Medicare Benefits “Non-Negotiable” MORE won the presidential election; Nevertheless, he fights as a Trumpite, beats up Governor Murphy as an “extremist”, defies strict COVID restrictions and supports relaxed gun laws. The aim is to supply the base with energy; The problem may be that the base is insufficient.

The state, along with neighboring New York, was hit hard by COVID. There have been numerous deaths in nursing homes. Still, Murphy – who has imposed strict restrictions and masking requirements, social distancing and testing – wins voter approval, 62-27 percent, for his handling of the pandemic, according to the Monmouth University poll conducted three weeks ago.

The 64-year-old former Goldman Sachs executive and U.S. ambassador to Germany has struggled with the democratic legislature, but he’s campaigning for his record of offering free community college tuition to low-income residents, expanding the right to vote and – as opposed to his opponent – standing up for the LGBTQ community. He uses every opportunity to bind Ciattarelli to Trump.

In addition to supporting his COVID policies, Murphy’s biggest calling card for re-election is the sad state of the New Jersey Republican Party.

Al Hunt is the former editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News. He was previously a reporter, bureau chief, and editor in Washington for the Wall Street Journal. For nearly a quarter of a century he wrote a column on politics for the Wall Street Journal, then for the International New York Times and Bloomberg View. He moderates the Politics War Room with James Carville. Follow him on Twitter @AlHuntDC.


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