New Jersey Election Analysis
Political guru Michael Barone: Bush ran 6 percentage points better in New Jersey in 2004 than in 2000—one of his biggest gains in any state. Forrester ran only 2 percent better than Schundler. But Corzine, like McGreevey, ran no better than the Democratic nominee [Kerry] had run the year before. What I don't see in these numbers is any major move away from the Republican ticket between 2004 and 2005. The patterns look pretty much the same. This is relevant for 2006 for New Jersey's six Republican representatives to Congress. Bush carried only three of their districts in 2000 but carried all six in 2004. If Bush or the Republican label is less attractive in 2006 than it was in 2004, that's a problem for some of these Republicans. These returns suggest that that problem doesn't exist, at least not yet.
Corzine, who probably spent upward of $50 million on this campaign, improved on McGreevey's 2001 percentage in only three counties, according to these incomplete returns: microscopically (+0.3 percent) in Bergen County and Essex County in North Jersey—Newark and the suburbs in the northeastern corner of the state, just across the river from New York City—and by 8 percent in Hudson County.
Turnout was up most in suburban counties with little or nothing in the way of central cities: Hunterdon (+13 percent), Gloucester (+9 percent), Somerset (+9 percent), Sussex (+7 percent). All of these but Gloucester went for Forrester. Turnout was down in Newark's Essex County (-4 percent), Camden County (-0.5 percent), and Passaic County (-3 percent) and also in counties with small central cities and quite a few modest-income suburbs—Bergen (-3 percent), Middlesex (-3 percent), and Union (-5 percent). But use these figures with extreme caution, since final returns may boost turnout in one or more of these counties. It does look like there was no surge of turnout in black central-city areas, on which Corzine surely lavished several of his millions.
Bottom line: Despite all the ructions in the national polls, New Jersey looks to be about where it was in 2004.