PLAINFIELD – U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez thinks a Democratic wave is coming this year, but he’s less sure on whether that wave will allow Democrats to wrest control of the House out of Republican hands.
“I think that there’s an intensity in the Democratic party and among the Democratic universe for creating change and this being an election in which people feel that they can take the country back,” Menendez said. “So, as I travel the state, I get that sense of intensity from not just the long-term Democratic activists, but from a new surge of individuals who really want to stand up to the president.”
President Donald Trump’s popularity in the state leaves much to be desired. Provisions in the Republican tax bill passed late last year that capped the State and Local Tax Deduction at $10,000 is particularly unpopular in a state with some of the highest local taxes in the country.
But Menendez said that even if it was possible, and even though Trump’s low national approval ratings are likely to compound the traditional mid-term advantage, turning the House blue could be tough.
“It’s challenging because the congressional districts across the country are still the same ones that originally existed, and many of them were gerrymandered in such a way that made it deeply red,” Menendez said.
That said, Trump will likely be a larger liability in New Jersey than he will elsewhere in the country. Policies passed under his tenure have hit the state particularly hard, and it’s possible those policies could energize voters to elect Democrats in New Jersey’s Republican-held congressional districts.
Races for seats long considered safely-red, like those in the 2nd, 7th and 11th congressional districts, have turned competitive, and it’s likely Trump is at least partly to blame.
“This is president who believes that big corporations and the wealthiest people in the country are the ones that deserve a tax break instead of working families,” Menendez said. “I think those things and so much more make him a huge liability for republican candidates.”