With the New Jersey State Assembly elections less than 100 days away, Democrats and Republicans are hoping to flip some seats in the lower chamber. Democrats want to keep expanding their 56-seat super-majority, while Republicans are looking at some pickup opportunities that will allow them to increase their legislative presence in Trenton.
Democrats are hoping to flip the Republican held 8th, 21st, and 25th districts, all of which voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and for House Democrats in 2018, while Republicans are hoping to flip the 1st and 11th district, both of which voted for Donald Trump in 2016, and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bob Hugin in 2018.
Clinton carried 27 of the states 40 legislative districts in 2016, including 3 Republican held seats, the 8th, 21st, and 25th districts — all seats that the Democrats are targeting in the upcoming Assembly elections. Clinton won the 8th district by a margin of 2.4%, she won the 21st District by a margin of 9.8%, and she won the 25th district by a razor thin margin of 0.02%, the closest margin in the state.
Meanwhile, Clinton failed to carry a few Democratic held districts, including the 1st, 3rd, and 11th. The 3rd is notable as the seat of Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford Township), who won his 2017 election by a margin of 18%, while Clinton lost it in 2016 by 3.7%. She lost the 1st district by 9.3% and the 11th district by 1.8%. Clinton also came within 5% of carrying the 39th, currently represented in the Assembly by Holly Schepisi (R-River Vale), and Robert Auth (R-Old Tappan). Trump was not within 5% of any Democratic held district that he did not win.
Gov. Phil Murphy carried 27 of the states 40 legislative districts when he was elected governor in 2017, including 2 Republican held seats, the 8th, and the 21st districts. Murphy won the 8th district by a margin of 2.5%, only slightly more than Clinton’s win in the district the year prior.
In the meantime, he won the 21st district by 2.1% — a smaller margin then Hillary Clinton — in part due to strong Republican legislative candidates that were not on the ballot in 2016, such as Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R-Westfield).
Murphy was able to carry a few seats that Clinton was unable to, including the 1st which he won by 0.4%, and the 3rd which he won by 8.5%/ However, Murphy was unable to carry the Democratic held 11th district, which he lost to Kim Guadagno by a margin of 2.9%. Murphy came within 5% of carrying the Republican held 39th, which he lost by 3.0%, and the 40th, which he lost by 3.8%
Bob Menendez carried 25 of the states 40 legislative districts when he won re-election to the United States Senate in 2018. He only carried one Republican held district, winning the 21st by a thin margin of 0.8%, the smallest margin of the 3 most recent statewide Democratic Candidates.
Hugin was able to carry numerous Democratic-held legislative districts. He won the 1st by a 15.2% margin, the 3rd by an 8.2% margin, and the 11th by a 2.1% margin. Menendez failed to carry the 8th, which Hugin won by 3.9% after it voted for Clinton in 2016 and Murphy in 2017. Menendez only was within 5% of one Republican -held district, the 8th. At the same time, Hugin came within 5% of carrying the 2nd, which neither Donald Trump, nor Kim Guadagno were able to come close to doing.
New Jersey Democratic congressional candidates carried 33 of the states 40 legislative districts in 2018, including numerous Republican held seats. Democrats occupy 91.7% of the state’s House seats, but carried 82.%% of the legislative districts.
Democrats carried the 8th by a margin of 7.9%, the 21st by a margin of 12.2%, the 25th district by a margin of 8.8%, the 26th by a margin of 6.1%, the 39th by a margin of 10.9%, and the 40th by a margin of 8.2%.
Meanwhile the Republicans won no district currently represented by a Democrat and only carried the 13th district by a margin of 1.9%.This landslide victory for the Democrats is in part due to the fact that a large amount of the districts are located in part or in full in New Jersey’s 5th, 7th, and 11th congressional districts, all of which elected Democratic representatives. The GOP lost both the 5th and 11th districts by margins greater than 10%, and a large amount of this vote was in the suburban towns that make up districts such as the 39th and 40th.
The most competitive district as of right now appears to be the 21st, currently represented in the General Assembly by Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Westfield), and Nancy Munoz (R-Summit), who won re-election in 2017 by a 4.3% margin over their opponents. This district is the only district won by Clinton, Murphy, Menendez, and House Democrats that is currently represented by Republicans in Trenton. Democratic challengers Lisa Mandelblatt and Stacey Gunderman hope to take advantage of this districts democratic leanings to flip another 2 seats into the Democratic column going into 2020.