In the leadup to last month’s congressional elections, Republicans hoped that 2022 would be another 2021, when Jack Ciattarelli led a red wave and Republicans won big all across the state. Democrats, unrealistically, would have preferred another 2020, when Joe Biden crushed Donald Trump and swept through previously deep-red suburbs.
The ultimate result? Somewhere in between. Democrats couldn’t match Biden’s numbers in much of the state, particularly in congressional districts held by Republican incumbents. But they also did far better than Gov. Phil Murphy, preventing Republicans from repeating the sorts of gains they made last year.
In total, there were 44 towns that voted for Biden in 2020 and a Republican for Congress this year, versus six towns that voted for a Democrat this year after supporting Trump. On the other hand, 64 towns supported a Democrat for Congress after voting for Ciattarelli in 2021, while only one Murphy-voting town was carried by a congressional Republican.
Here’s a look at all of those towns.
2020 President – 2022 Congress
It’s generally the rule in midterm elections that the party in power loses some ground, and while 2022 was an alright year for New Jersey Democrats, they still couldn’t reach Biden’s high-water mark in many districts and towns.
Most importantly, Democrats lost the 7th congressional district, held for the last four years by Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes). Rep.-elect Tom Kean Jr. (R-Westfield) won by around three points – enough to flip 11 Biden-voting towns, most of them in the historically Republican suburbs of Morris and Somerset Counties.
The Somerset County borough of Bernardsville, for example, backed Biden by just over 10 points in 2020 but voted for Kean by one point this year. That kind of partisan swing was prevalent in towns all across the 7th district, though in many cases it didn’t result in flipping the town; next-door Bernards also shifted 10 points towards Republicans, but Malinowski still won it.
If Kean hopes to earn more terms in Congress, he’ll have to keep winning in places like Bernardsville. That may be an increasingly tough order as New Jersey’s suburbs continue shifting towards Democrats, though Kean has proven very capable of winning over Biden-voting moderates who distrust the national Republican brand.
The other two districts that were home to a significant number of Biden-to-Republican towns were the 2nd and 4th districts, where Reps. Jeff Van Drew (R-Dennis) and Chris Smith (R-Manchester) annihilated weak Democratic opponents. Van Drew flipped 12 towns from Biden, and Smith flipped another five.
Notably, Van Drew won Millville and Egg Harbor Township, the largest municipalities in Cumberland and Atlantic Counties, respectively. Both of those counties are usually light-blue in presidential elections, so Van Drew’s strength in their population centers is intimidating to any Democrat who hopes to have a chance of taking him down.
Democratic incumbents in the 3rd, 5th, 6th, 9th, and 12th districts also lost at least one Biden-won town, though all five still won re-election by double digits.
The towns that flipped from Trump to a congressional Democrat, on the other hand, were much fewer and farther between.
In the 11th district, Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair)’s astonishing 19-point victory allowed her to flip two towns, Roseland and Florham Park, from Trump. She also came just four votes short in Cedar Grove, which hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in decades.
Reps. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown), Donald Norcross (D-Camden), and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch) also each flipped one town: Mansfield for Kim, National Park for Norcross, and South Amboy for Pallone.
Finally and most unexpectedly, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing) was able to flip tiny Millstone in Somerset County, even as she significantly underperformed Biden in most of the rest of the 12th district. The borough only cast 200 votes in total, however, so it didn’t have much impact on the overall outcome.
2021 Governor – 2022 Congress
When he won re-election by three points in 2021, Murphy did poorly enough that congressional Democrats were able to outrun him essentially everywhere this year.
Every single Democrat save one was able to flip at least one Ciattarelli-won town. The lone exception, 8th district Rep.-elect Rob Menendez (D-Jersey City), has a pretty good excuse: Ciattarelli didn’t carry any towns in his district anyways.
Though he lost to Kean, Malinowski was able to flip seven towns from Ciattarelli, among them Ciattarelli’s birthplace of Raritan Borough. (Ciattarelli’s current hometown, Hillsborough, also flipped to Democrats, though Malinowski lost the portion of the town in the 7th district.)
Ciattarelli won the 7th district by more than 12 points last year, a sign of just how ancestrally Republican the district is. Kean’s performance, then, was closer to the baseline for modern elections in the rapidly changing district.
Norcross, Kim, Pallone, Sherrill, and Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) all flipped at least six towns from the 2021 governor’s race as well; Kim managed to flip 11 towns and Sherrill flipped 12. All across the state, suburbs that had proven willing to back Ciattarelli in a state-level contest balked at voting Republican in a federal race.
Even Tim Alexander and Matt Jenkins, the doomed Democratic nominees who ran against Van Drew and Smith, managed to flip one town each: Woolwich for Alexander and tiny Lake Como for Jenkins.
Alexander’s district also hosted the lone Murphy-won town that voted Republican this year. Cape May, at the southernmost end of the state, voted for Van Drew after narrowly supporting Murphy last year.
Biden 2020 / Republican 2022
CD-2: Carneys Point, Cape May, Egg Harbor City, Egg Harbor Township, Galloway, Hamilton (Atlantic), Millville, Somers Point, Ventnor City, Vineland, Woodbine, Woodstown
CD-4: Eatontown, Ocean (Monmouth), Shrewsbury Borough, South Toms River, Tinton Falls
CD-5: Englewood Cliffs, Mahwah, Midland Park, Montvale, Northvale, Upper Saddle River
CD-6: Little Silver, Loch Arbour, Matawan, Sayreville
CD-7: Bedminster, Bernardsville, Green Brook, Long Hill, Mendham Borough, Mine Hill, Mount Olive, Peapack and Gladstone, Phillipsburg, Warren, Watchung
CD-9: Hasbrouck Heights, Hawthorne, Rochelle Park
CD-12: Jamesburg, South River
Trump 2020 / Democrat 2022
CD-1: National Park
CD-3: Mansfield (Burlington)
CD-6: South Amboy
CD-11: Florham Park, Roseland
CD-12: Millstone (Somerset)
Murphy 2021 / Republican 2022
CD-2: Cape May
Ciattarelli 2021 / Democrat 2022
CD-1: Berlin Borough, Mount Ephraim, Monroe (Gloucester), National Park, Pitman, West Deptford, Westville, Woodbury Heights
CD-3: Chesterfield, Cinnaminson, Florence, Hainesport, Mansfield (Burlington), Medford, Medford Lakes, Pemberton Borough, Pemberton Township, Riverside, Wrightstown
CD-4: Lake Como
CD-5: Allendale, Alpine, Hillsdale, Ho-Ho-Kus, Norwood, Ramsey, River Vale, Waldwick
CD-6: Aberdeen, Fair Haven, Highlands, Interlaken, Neptune City, South Amboy, South Plainfield
CD-7: Berkeley Heights, Bernards, Califon, Clinton Town, High Bridge, Raritan Boro, Wharton
CD-9: East Rutherford, Elmwood Park, South Hackensack, Wood-Ridge
CD-11: Boonton Town, Chatham Township, Denville, Florham Park, Little Falls, North Caldwell, Nutley, Rockaway Boro, Rockaway Township, Roseland, West Caldwell, Woodland Park
CD-12: Millstone (Somerset)
Split: Bridgewater (Districts 7 and 12), Hillsborough (Districts 7 and 12), Mendham Township (Districts 7 and 11)