Find some of the latest local exclusives on public and community leaders, events and issues on FRNJ Extra. Subscribe Here.
By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
ATLANTIC CITY – If one wants to take of closer look at why Gov. Phil Murphy's re-election against Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli was so close, you don't have to look much further than Atlantic and Cumberland counties.
Blacks and Latinos have been a pretty reliable voting base for Democrat in New Jersey and the around the country. In Atlantic County, Blacks make up 17.1% of the population while Latinos make up 19.2%. They hold a majority in the county's largest city, Atlantic City, which had a six-person race for mayor Nov. 2.
In Cumberland County, Latinos make up 31.4% of the population, one of the largest percentages in the state while Blacks make up another 21.9%.
All sounds like good news for Democrats going into the election, right? President Joe Biden won both counties with more than 52% of the vote just a year ago.
So how did Ciattarelli get solid wins in both counties? The Republican got identical 55.6% of the vote in Atlantic and Cumberland counties where Murphy couldn't break 44%.
In fact. Democrats lost two key Atlantic County commissioners races there and saw their incumbent Democratic Cumberland County commissioner director booted.
In short, it was a rare good night for Republicans and a bad night for Democrats, but why?
"Every New Jersey poll put Murphy’s lead at 8 to 10 points," John Froonjian, the executive director of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University, told Front Runner New Jersey. "They turned out to be wrong, but Democratic voters may have felt a lack of urgency, that their vote wasn’t needed because the election was in the bag.
"Nobody saw the red wave coming. If they had, Democrats would have been more focused on voting and the Murphy campaign would have run a better get-out-the-vote effort. I also wonder whether Democrats lacked enthusiasm because their party has not delivered for them in Washington before the election," he added.
The good news for Murphy was that people of color in other counties saved Murphy's governorship by allowing him to run up the score.
For example, in Essex County, where Blacks make up 41.9% of the population and Hispanics 23.5%, Murphy grabbed a whopping 73.7% of the vote. In Hudson County, where Latinos are 42.9% of the electorate and Blacks another 14.8%, Murphy won big again with 73.5% of the vote.
In Camden County (Murphy 61.7%) and Union County (61.6), where Blacks and Latinos have a sizable percentage of the population, Murphy won by such impressive margins that it offset the missteps in South Jersey.
"Now that re-elected Gov. Phil Murphy is crafting his agenda for the next four years, he needs to help more African Americans and Latinos get elected to public office, appoint more minorities to state policy positions, allocate more state and federal grant money to support sustainable African American and Latino small businesses, and help these communities uplift themselves," said Wilfredo Rojas, the influential South Jersey columnist who writes for FRNJ and other publications.
Froonjian said even though his Murphy's numbers were robust in those urban communities, they were better in his previous election.
"While you are correct that Murphy ran up the score in northern urban counties, the turnout in those counties was below what it was four years ago," Froonjian said. "I think if turnout at least equaled 2017 numbers in those counties, the election would not have been so close. Statewide turnout went from 39% in 2017 to 37%, a two-point drop.
"But it was down 4-6 points in Bergen, Hudson and Essex counties. If turnout equaled 2017 in those Democratic counties, I estimate there would have been over 90,000 more votes coming out of Democratic bases. They wouldn't all be Murphy votes, but he would get most of them, as your data shows," he said, noting Republican counties like Cape May and Ocean showed solid increases in voting.
What does all of this mean? One, Murphy should be personally thanking the Black and Hispanic communities, particularly those in northern and central New Jersey for getting him re-elected. Second, Democrats have an issue with the same group of voters in South Jersey. In fact, South Jersey's Steve Sweeney, the second most powerful politician in the state as Senate speaker, lost his seat to the Republican "red wave."
While it did not cost them the governorship this time, if they don't get it addressed it could cost a U.S. senate, U.S. representative and other important state seats in the near future.
QUESTION: What November's election a hiccup or a true "red wave" heading for New Jersey politically? What role are people of color playing in it? Answer in the comment section below?
What's New on Front Runner New Jersey.com
Follow Us Today On:
Check Out FRNJ EXTRA Here. Note from AC JosepH Media: If you like this story and others posted on Front Runner New Jersey.com., lend us a hand so we can keep producing articles like these for New Jersey and the world to see. Click on SUPPORT FRNJ and make a contribution that will do directly in making more stories like this available. Thank you for reading.