Nov 4, 2021 - Politics & Policy

By the numbers: N.J. close call

Data: NJ Secretary of State Office, AP, NYT; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios
Data: NJ Secretary of State Office, AP, NYT; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Democrat Phil Murphy eked out a win to remain New Jersey's governor, yet most counties in his state swung right — just as in Virginia — when compared to 2020's Biden-Trump margins.

Why it matters: It was another unexpected alarm bell for Democrats nationally. Such massive swings at the state, county and state legislative levels suggest far more seats are in play in next year's midterms.

By the numbers: Republican Jack Ciattarelli outperformed Donald Trump in all but one New Jersey county, as of Thursday late afternoon, and flipped four counties that voted for Joe Biden a year ago.

  • The only county to vote for Murphy with the same margin as Biden was Hudson County, which includes New York City suburbs like Hoboken.
  • The counties to shift furthest were Atlantic and Somerset. Atlantic voted for Biden by 7 percentage points but Ciattarelli by 12. Somerset moved from Biden +21 to Murphy +2.

What to watch: The shift seen in the governor's race also played out down-ballot.

  • Republican legislative candidates outperformed Trump by a median of 10.8 percentage points in their districts, according to Cook Political Report's Dave Wasserman.
  • If counties swung by that median margin across the country, Republicans would pick up 44 House seats in the midterms.

What they're saying: "Again, you had a Democrat who was running on anti-Trump themes, trying to tie his Republican opponent to Donald Trump the way that Terry McAuliffe did to Glenn Youngkin," Mark Rozell, founding dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, told Axios.

  • "And it appears the voters don't think that's all that important, now that Trump is out of office."
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