Home>Campaigns>While 7th district VBM turnout was more than 80%, urban New Jersey districts were about 25% less

Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Edwin J. Torres/Governor’s Office)

While 7th district VBM turnout was more than 80%, urban New Jersey districts were about 25% less

Low turnout in 8th and 10th districts could be a problem for Phil Murphy, if he continues mostly mail-in ballots for 2021

By David Wildstein, November 13 2020 11:23 am

While suburban New Jerseyans from both parties embraced a general election conducted almost entirely through vote-by-mail ballots,  many voters from urban Democratic strongholds still don’t appear comfortable with mail-in ballots and did not vote in the November 3 general election.

That could be a problem for Gov. Phil Murphy when he runs for re-election next year, if he decides to continue predominately-all VBM elections in 2021.

It could also mean a sudden reversal of interests as Republicans look at their numbers in 2020 and become vote-by-mail converts, while Democrats move to rush some electoral reforms – early voting may be first in line – before the next election.

Much depends on where New Jersey is with the fight to combat COVID-19 before Murphy and Democratic legislative leaders decide if they want to continue vote-by-mail elections going forward.

In the 10th congressional district, one of the ten most Democratic in the nation, just 54.9%, not including provisionals, returned mail-in ballot for the 2020 general election.

That’s below the statewide turnout of 72.3% — or 74.6% when provisional ballots are added – and 25 points behind the very suburban 7th district, where turnout is more than 80%.

Murphy can’t allow places like the 10th, which includes most of Newark, East Orange, Irvington, and other strong Democratic municipalities in Essex, parts of Jersey City and Bayonne in Hudson, and Democrat vote-producing towns in Union County, to have a sluggish turnout.

The 8th district, which includes most of Hudson County, the North Ward of Newark, and Elizabeth, turnout was at 55.7%.

Essex and Hudson counties, where massive pluralities are an integral part of a Democratic statewide victory, had no competitive races in urban areas.  Republicans had no freeholder candidates and not a single municipal candidate in Hudson, and the GOP had nominal opposition in Essex.

Rep. Donald Payne (D-Newark) won 84% in his re-election bid in the 10th, and Rep. Albio Sires was re-elected with 75% in the 8th. Low turnout didn’t affect their percentages, but it did reduce Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s statewide total.

New Jersey was an automatic win for Biden in the presidential race – the state hasn’t gone red in a national election since 1988 – and U.S. Senator Cory Booker was never in danger of losing.

At least 4,513,683 New Jersey voters cast ballots in last week’s presidential election – that number might come down slightly after rejected ballots are pulled from the count – which makes 2020 the highest voter turnout in state history.

New Jersey also had high turnout in the mostly-all VBM primary  — 1,466,366 total votes, second only to the 2008 presidential primary – and what appears to be record turnout in an all-VBM municipal election in May.

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