Home>Campaigns>Where each competitive N.J. congressional race stands, by the numbers

Rep. Tom Malinowski at a rally in Rahway. (Photo: Joey Fox for the New Jersey Globe).

Where each competitive N.J. congressional race stands, by the numbers

A look at spending, early voting numbers, race ratings, and more

By Joey Fox, November 07 2022 5:24 pm

There’s a lot of punditry that can go into analyzing elections. Who’s the stronger candidate? Whose message will resonate more with their district? How are voters feeling about their lives and their elected officials?

But with Election Day arriving tomorrow, it’s also worth looking at hard numbers to see where New Jersey’s four main competitive districts – the 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 11th – stand. District partisanship, spending from candidates and outside groups, publicly released polling, and advance voting data are all important (and objective) factors in any election.

This guide looks at all four of those data points as well as race ratings from three major forecasters: the Cook Political Report, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, and FiveThirtyEight’s deluxe model. No data point is infallible, but together, they can paint a picture of what tomorrow’s election might look like.

3rd district: Andy Kim (D-inc.) vs. Bob Healey (R)

Partisanship
Cook PVI: D+5
2020 presidential margin: Biden +14.1
2021 gubernatorial margin: Murphy +1.6

Spending
Kim spending: $5,178,769
Outside D spending: $192,383
Healey spending: $3,794,834
Outside R spending: $3,186,159

Public polling
Kim 44%-38% – RMG Research for U.S. Term Limits, August 2022

Advance votes
Absentee votes: 52,222
Early votes: 25,809
Advance votes by registration: 59% D, 23% R
Net advantage by registration: D +27,967

Ratings
Cook rating: Lean Democratic
Sabato rating: Likely Democratic
FiveThirtyEight forecast: Likely Democratic (85-in-100 D)

The contest between Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) and businessman Bob Healey has grown increasingly competitive in the final stretch of the 2022 campaign, fueled in large part by Healey’s heavy spending. Thanks to self-funding and a super PAC funded by his mother, pro-Healey forces have outspent Kim $7 million to $5.4 million – though outside groups get worse ad rates than candidates, reducing Healey’s advantage.

The 3rd district itself, however, leans Democratic, with a Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) of D+5. Most prognosticators see Kim as a modest-to-significant favorite for re-election, and the only publicly released poll of the race had Kim ahead by six points.

78,031 advance votes have been cast in the district so far, the third-highest total of any district in the state. As expected, those votes heavily favor Kim, with 27,967 more registered Democrats casting votes so far than registered Republicans – a margin that will be substantially reduced when more Republican-leaning voters arrive at the polls on Election Day.

7th district: Tom Malinowski (D-inc.) vs. Tom Kean Jr. (R)

Partisanship
Cook PVI: R+1
2020 presidential margin: Biden +3.7
2021 gubernatorial margin: Ciattarelli +12.4

Spending
Malinowski spending: $6,868,153
Outside D spending: $2,161,498
Kean spending: $3,248,451
Outside R spending: $6,150,759

Public polling
Kean 46%-38% – RMG Research for U.S. Term Limits, August 2022
Tied 47%-47% – GQR for the Malinowski campaign, late October 2022
Tied 48%-48% – GQR for the Malinowski campaign, early October 2022
Tied 46%-46% – GQR for the Malinowski campaign, February 2022

Advance votes
Absentee votes: 57,436
Early votes: 28,631
Advance votes by registration: 51% D, 28% R
Net advantage by registration: D +19,819

Ratings
Cook rating: Lean Republican
Sabato rating: Lean Republican
FiveThirtyEight forecast: Lean Republican (72-in-100 R)

The most expensive district in the state is the 7th district, where Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes), former State Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean (R-Westfield), and several super PACs have spent upwards of $18 million. Republicans have collectively outspent Democrats $9.4 million to $9 million, though again, ad rate advantages for candidates means that Malinowski’s $6.9 million will go further than spending from super PACs.

Unlike in the 3rd district, the partisan fundamentals of the 7th district don’t really favor Democrats. The district has a Cook PVI of R+1 and Gov. Phil Murphy lost the district by a punishing 12-point margin last year; Malinowski is universally viewed as the underdog by race raters.

More voters have cast advance votes in the 7th district than almost anywhere else, with 86,067 absentee and early votes recorded so far. Registered Democrats have a 19,819-voter advantage, smaller than in other competitive districts; that’s not necessarily surprising, given that registered Republicans outnumber Democrats in the district.

5th district: Josh Gottheimer (D-inc.) vs. Frank Pallotta (R)

Partisanship
Cook PVI: D+4
2020 presidential margin: Biden +12.4
2021 gubernatorial margin: Murphy +0.9

Spending
Gottheimer spending: $2,812,212
Outside D spending: $4,519,460
Pallotta spending: $682,561
Outside R spending: $38,151

Public polling 
None

Advance votes
Absentee votes: 38,814
Early votes: 20,172
Advance votes by registration: 57% D, 23% R
Net advantage by registration: D +20,328

Ratings
Cook rating: Likely Democratic
Sabato rating: Likely Democratic
FiveThirtyEight forecast: Likely Democratic (92-in-100 D)

While the 3rd and 7th districts have seen heavy spending on both sides, it’s far more lopsided in the 5th district, where Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) faces Frank Pallotta, who previously ran against him in 2020. Gottheimer and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg have combined to spend $7.3 million; Pallotta hasn’t even broken $700,000 in spending, nor has he gotten any significant outside support.

On paper, the 5th district is modestly competitive: D+4 PVI, voted for Biden by 12 points and for Murphy by less than one point. But in large part because of the funding disparity, every forecaster sees Gottheimer as substantially favored.

A relatively small 58,986 advance votes have been cast so far, fewer than in other competitive districts. Still, Democrats have built up a net 20,328-vote advantage.

11th district: Mikie Sherrill (D-inc.) vs. Paul DeGroot (R)

Partisanship
Cook PVI: D+6
2020 presidential margin: Biden +16.8
2021 gubernatorial margin: Murphy +4.2

Spending
Sherrill spending: $7,562,646
Outside D spending: $5,130,065
DeGroot spending: $558,368
Outside R spending: $0

Public polling 
None

Advance votes
Absentee votes: 47,102
Early votes: 24,381
Advance votes by registration: 59% D, 21% R
Net advantage by registration: D +33,482

Ratings
Cook rating: Solid Democratic
Sabato rating: Likely Democratic
FiveThirtyEight forecast: Solid Democratic (97-in-100 D)

Whether or not the 11th district contest between Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) and former Assistant Passaic County Prosecutor Paul DeGroot is even competitive is the subject of some disagreement. Based on fundraising, it certainly isn’t; Sherrill and outside groups funded by Bloomberg have combined for $12.1 million in spending, completely washing away DeGroot’s $558,000.

The district is also quite Democratic at a PVI of D+6, voting for Biden by nearly 17 points. Neither the Cook Political Report and FiveThirtyEight see the race as competitive, but Sabato’s Crystal Ball has it at the edge of the playing field in Likely Democratic.

Democrats also have a huge advantage among the district’s 71,483 advance votes: 27,011 more registered Democrats have voted so far than registered Republicans.

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