Saturday, November 21, 2009

How Christie Won In New Jersey: Southern and Central New Jersey

The New Jersey Gubernatorial race appeared to resemble one of the Obama/Clinton primaries in 2008. In those primaries, Clinton lead until about two weeks before the primary where Obama started kicking his volunteers into full geer. Then in the last few days (or the last second as in New Hampshire,) Clinton came from behind and won. The comparison does not include Clinton's tactics or political beliefs, it just includes what the polls showed in the primaries. In early 2009, Chris Christie (R) was ahead of incumbent Governor Jon Corzine (D) and in the summer, Christe lead by ten points. I was not too worried until then because since 1997, Republicans are Charlie Brown trying to kick the football from Lucy. Christie painted himself as a new voice and blamed Corzine for the economic recession. Corzine highlighted his experience on Wall Street and pointed out how Christie had no real plan for fixing the economy (Christie, releasing the same economic plan twice does not mean you have two economic plans.) Then in September, the race became very narrow. Independent Chris Daggett began to take independents on the Jersey Shore and Republican suburbs around Somerset and Morris Counties. Corzine, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs began running ads with his gigantic warchest and overall spent around $23 million, about 12 million more than Christie. These two factors heavily contributed to Christie's slip in the polls but Daggett was the more prominent factor. He had numbers in the teens throughout October while Christie and Corzine hovered around 40%. This pattern remained until the last few days until election day on November 3rd. Many Daggett supporters realized that Daggett could not win so they began drifting towards Christie. This explains the final result where Christie beat Corzine and his running mate Loretta Weinberg from Bergen County 49%-45% with Daggett winning most of the remaining 6%. It looks like Charlie Brown finally got what he wanted. Corzine also learned that attacking your opponent's weight does NOT gain voters. On average, Corzine won 12 points less than Obama and the margin between the two races leaned towards the Republicans by 19 points. Corzine did not lose much ground among minority voters but Obama performed much better among independent white voters. Yes, the main reason Corzine lost was that Daggett's poll numbers fell down the drain. In this post though, I will explain how Christie won by analyzing each county in Southern and Central New Jersey. In an earlier post, I wrote about what to watch in New Jersey during election night. Besides analyzing the Gubernatorial race results, I will also compare to my last post. As in the last post, the geographical designations are in the same places. Okay, here are the links:
for election results in 2008. Once you click the link, go to the icon choose another office, select gubernatorial races, select a year and you should find yourself a map.
This is for New Jersey's demographic data. Click on a county and you will find it for each county.

Southern New Jersey
In my last post, I said that even Corzine wins, he should still lose Southern New Jersey. Corzine lost and he definitely lost Southern New Jersey. Camden County is the most urban county in Southern New Jersey and Obama won 67% of the vote there in 2008. I said that Corzine needed to win by at least 15 points to win. Corzine barely missed, winning by 14 points. This explains that Christie was able to win white middle class independents but Christie lost Camden County because of heavily Democratic Camden City and its close suburbs. In my last post, I said that if Corzine won Gloucester County, he was sucessful with winning white voters in Camden County. Christie won Gloucester County by three points so Christie's sucess among the Camden County suburban voter was widespread. Gloucester County has the same demographics as Camden County without the inner city. I found heavily white and rural Salem County's result unexpected. Christie won by six points and since the county narrowly voted for Obama, I would have expected a larger Christie win. The answer to this question could be that Daggett peeled away enough Christie voters to narrow the margin. Daggett won 10% of the vote in Salem. Another interesting result is Cape May County where Obama won 45% of the vote but Corzine won 38%, higher than counties with similar counties on the Jersey Shore. This could be because Kim Guandango, Christie's running mate helped him in Monmouth and Ocean Counties further north but not at Cape May. Corzine won Cumberland County 50%-42% winning ten points less than Obama. I expected a smaller drop here due to large numbers of minority voters. As always, Atlantic County was the complete bellweather in the race as it was in 2000, 2004, 2005 and 2008. Christie won 49% of the vote and only 0.05% less than his statewide average, 48.75%. Atlantic County's population is 61% White, one point less than New Jersey's 62% White population. Atlantic County culturally may be closer to Las Vegas on the beach than the rest of New Jersey but Atlantic County has a close proportion to the rest of New Jersey of urban, suburban and rural areas. Ocean County just to Atlantic County's north voted for Christie by 38 points and the increase over McCain's margin in 2008 was only a bit above the average increase. The important point is the turnout which is about 2/3 the level of 2008, showing that Christie was able to turn out the base. Another important county was Burlington County which usually votes 1-2 points more Democratic than New Jersey and has similar demographics to Camden County. Christie won Burlington County by two points showing his narrow margin among the demographic of southwestern New Jersey white voters. Overall, Southern New Jersey voted similar to what I expected.

Central New Jersey:
Christie received large margins here, losing only one county. Christie lost Mercer County which contains heavily Democratic Trenton by only 16 points, 19 points less than Obama. Most of the voting was polarized with Christie gaining more than average over McCain while Christie gained less in heavily Democratic areas. Mercer County was a different story because even though it was a base county, the base did not turn out and Christie made inroads among the white voters here. In Monmouth County on the Shore, Christie's running Kim Guandango who is from Monmouth County definitely helped him there. Obama lost Monmouth County by three points even though it is an upper class county that is 77% White. Christie won by 31 points, improving over McCain's margin by 28 points. The large increase is probably due to not only Guandango but also that Daggett was unable to garner enough votes. He won only 6% of the vote and I expected the Shore would be a strong area for Daggett. If Daggett stayed strong and won somewhere around 15% of the vote, he probably would have reudced Christie 64,000 vote margin in Monmouth County by about 15,000. Another reason for Monmouth County's strong Christie result is that the New York suburban white voter is trending towards the Republicans. As long as the Republicans stay away from cultural issues, they can start winning these voters again. If Democrats want to keep these voters, they need to highlight how they will keep your job or create one for you. Moving onto Hunterdon County, Christie won there by 40 points, 27 points higher than McCain's 13 point margin. Hunterdon County has wealthy independents and the large shift towards Christie is probably because Obama overperformed with wealthy independents and they are reverting back to their normal voting patterns. Also, many of the wealthy voters may have trusted Wall Street so were angry that a former Wall Street corporate executive could not fix their economy. Somerset County is less Republican but contains many of the same voters as Hunterdon County. When I saw the Middlesex County result, I was pretty shocked. Obama won there by 22 points but Christie won by three. Middlesex County was not extremely white, its population was 53% White. Most of the minorities were Hispanic or Asians but Christie did not appear to make inroads among those groups. My explanation would be that Corzine failed to turn out the base and Christie did extremely well with white independents. Northwestern Middlesex County is close to his home, Mendhem so Christie's close proximity probably helped him.
Overall in Southern and Central New Jersey, Christie and Guandango's homes helped them win voters while sweeping independents and preventing Corzine from turning out his base.
My next post, this time analyzing Urban and Northern New Jersey should be up in about a week.

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