Democrats are outpacing Republicans in returned vote-by-mail balloting in the battleground 25th district, where State Sen.-elect Anthony M. Bucco (R-Boonton) is fighting to hold on to a State Assembly seat he plans to quit if he wins.
So far, 4,351 VBM ballots have been returned. Of the returned mail-in ballots, 1,950 (44.8%) are from Democrats and 1,716 (39.4%) from Republicans.
County Clerks in Morris and Somerset have mailed 15,953 VBM ballots to 6,283 Democrats, 5,375 Republicans and 4,240 unaffiliated voters.
Those numbers reflect the outsized advantage Democrats have in VBM voters.
Republicans make up 33.9% of registered voters in the district and are 33.6% of the VBM universe. Democrats are 29% of electorate, but 39.4% of voters requesting mail-in ballots.
In a district that has a 5% GOP registration edge, the VBM universe has swung ten points to a 5% Democratic edge.
While two weeks before the general election 27% of the VBM ballots have been returned, the total number of mail-in ballots already cast represents a 24.5% increase over the 2015 Assembly race.
Vote-by-mail ballots cast so far in 2019 is 69% of the total cast in the 2017 gubernatorial election in the 25th district.
In 2015, Bucco received 29.5% of the total vote and 30% of the VBMs. Two years later, Bucco won 26.1% of the total vote and 24.6% of the mail-in ballots.
A new state law passed last year and updated in August automatically mailed ballots to any voters who cast VBM votes in 2016, 2017 or 2018 unless they specifically opted out.
Bucco and his running mate, Denville Councilman Brian Bergen, face Democrats Lisa Bhimani and Darcy Draeger. Bhimani won 48% of the vote in her challenge to the late State Sen. Anthony R. Bucco two years ago.
Twelve-term Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris Township) is not seeking re-election.
The 25th still leans GOP, but it’s become increasingly more competitive: there are 7,811 more Republicans than Democrats. When the district was drawn in 2011, the Republican edge was 15,935.
in 2018, Democratic congressional candidates Tom Malinowski and Mikie Sherrill combined to win the machine vote in the towns in the 25th legislative district by 12 percentage points, 56%-44%. Malinowski and Sherrill won the vote-by-mail by 20 points, 60%-40%.