South Jersey Democrats are preparing to distance themselves from Joe Biden and a Congress controlled by their own party as they look to win local elections in a climate where voters increasingly view Washington Democrats as out of touch on pocketbook issues.
About 150 party leaders, elected officials and candidates from seven South Jersey counties met at a hotel in Glassboro on Tuesday to hear Democratic powerhouse George E. Norcross III, political consultant Mickey Quinn, and Anna Greenberg, the daughter of legendary Clinton 1992 campaign pollster Stanley Greenberg, present the results of an issue-based survey conducted this month, the New Jersey Globe has confirmed.
They were told that South Jersey voters are most concerned about the cost of gasoline, groceries, and other inflation-related issues, and blame Biden and the White House for it.
“Washington Democrats are out of touch and the public knows it,” said one attendee, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Greenberg, whose firm, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, is working for Norcross, told attendees that independent and unaffiliated voters were looking primarily at economic issues and did not view social issues, including abortion and guns, with any great intensity for the 2022 mid-term elections.
A bump on the gun issue was attributed to the poll being in the field at the same time of a mass school shooting in Texas this month.
That means campaign and governmental messaging for county and municipal elections will be transformed to adopt a pocketbook narrative.
But ongoing discussions about the state budget, which must be adopted within the next nine days, will not be affected by the new poll, the New Jersey Globe was told.
Instead, voters might expect a campaign reminiscent of the one Norcross ran in 1991, in his third year as the Camden County Democratic chairman, when his candidates detached themselves from Gov. Jim Florio, whose favorables were hugely upside-down at 17%-55%.
As Democrats were facing epic losses up and down the ballot across the state – the party lost 10 seats in the State Senate and 21 in the Assembly – Camden fared differently. Democrats won freeholder seats and 32-year-old John Adler ousted a four-term Republican state senator.
Florio, 84, was among the attendees at today’s meeting.
Like he did 31 years ago, Norcross is expected to provide the financial resources Democrats need to withstand a political climate that favors Republicans.
Control of county government in Gloucester and Cumberland counties are up this year, and Democrats are prioritizing the protection of their majorities after losing seats in 2021. Republicans need to flip two county commissioner seats in Gloucester and one in Cumberland to take control. The GOP is also eyeing the Gloucester County Clerk post, where 80-year-old James Hogan is seeking a sixth term.
This was the second party summit called by Norcross over the last two months. POLITICO reported that he held one in April to discuss the 2021 elections and plans moving forward.
According to Greenberg, South Jersey voters strongly support a suspension of federal and state gasoline taxes until the current crisis is over. They back a freeze on government spending and a return of a state surplus to the taxpayers.
The poll showed that voter anger is directed mostly at Biden and Democratic majorities in the Senate and House, and they want a referendum on Biden. South Jersey voters don’t like Gov. Murphy, the poll shows.
Two South Jersey congressmen, Donald Norcross (D-Camden) and Andy Kim (D-Moorestown), were not invited to the meeting. Tim Alexander, a former prosecutor who is challenging Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis), was in attendance.