US Elections: New Jersey senate result

by Jackie_South on October 26, 2013

NJ iconLast week’s senate election in New Jersey will bolster the hopes of two potential future presidential candidates from the Garden State.

The most obvious beneficiary is the election’s victor, Cory Booker. Young, dynamic, principled and charismatic (and black), he could be the next Obama. And unlike Obama, he has a prior track record of executive office, successfully running Newark, New Jersey’s poverty-ridden (a third of its population are officially impoverished) largest city.

His election makes him the first black senator to be elected since Obama, although three others have been appointed since then. Roland Burris was appointed by the corrupt Rod Blagojevich to replace Obama but did not stand in the 2010 election. Mo Cowan was appointed to hold the fort for six months as Massachusetts senator until Ed Markey’s election. Most significantly, Republican Tim Scott was appointed at the start of the year to become the first southern black senator since reconstruction.

Booker is also the first black senator from a Mid-Atlantic state. He made light of the achievement, re-tweeting congratulations on becoming the first bald senator from the state of New Jersey (sadly, only true if you mean first totally bald senator). He may, however, be the only vegetarian in the Senate.

More impressively, Booker this week was using his last few days as mayor of New Jersey to officiate at gay weddings at City Hall, following their legalisation on Monday.

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Booker’s victory was solid, but hardly stellar for what is normally a blue state, winning by a margin of just over ten percent. He took only 36% of what Obama tallied in the state last year. Whilst turnout (39%) was always going to be low in a by-election where the outcome seemed clear, the election was being held against the background of the government shutdown. It isn’t even as if Booker’s race could have counted much against him in comparison to Obama.

NJ senate 2013 result

Here’s the map I posted before the election showing how the state’s counties voted in last year’s presidential election (the senate election held at the same time was slightly more in the Democrats’ favour).

NJ 2012

And here’s the map from last Wednesday. The Democrat vote held up in the most urban parts of the state, but fell away in the south and west of the state. Salem County (the least populous in the state) in the south went from a slight (1.3%) lead for Obama to a 18% lead for Booker’s Republican opponent, Steve Lonegan.

NJ 2013

This will be of great comfort to the state’s other presidential hopeful: Republican governor Chris Christie. Christie is up for re-election on 5 November: polls show he is running 20-30 percent ahead of Democrat challenger Barbara Buono. His work tacking to the centre over the last year or so to secure re-election has clearly paid off.

Expect Christie to win big on 5 November, and then for him to tack right rapidly as he positions himself to make a run for the Republican presidential candidacy.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Killingworth October 27, 2013 at 7:13 am

Forgive me if you’ve already covered this, Jackie, but why didn’t they hold both elections on the same day?

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Jackie_South October 27, 2013 at 9:40 am

In New Jersey, it is the governor’s call. I’m guessing Christie wanted it on a different day to make sure that the senate election would not interfere with his re-election campaign.

Having another state-wide election on the same day would have been a distraction and increased the likelihood of events outside his control blowing things off course. The biggest risk to his re-election would have been if the Republicans had picked a Tea Party candidate who said something stupid in the campaign. Having the election on a separate day isolates that risk.

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