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The Atlantic County-based 2nd legislative district has been one of the most heavily flipped in the state, with a new congressman in 2018 and a new state senator and assemblyman in 2017. The district has regularly see-sawed between Democrats and Republicans since 1989; no other district has had legislative delegations split between the two parties as frequently as the 2nd.
In 2017, Democrats Vince Mazzeo (D-Northfield) and John Armato (D-Buena Vista) defeated Republicans Vince Sera and Brenda Taube by a margin of 14.4%, picking up the Assembly seat of Chris Brown (R-Ventnor), who had run for Senate when incumbent James Whelan (D-Atlantic City) retired.
Brown won a Senate seat by a margin of 10% against interim State Sen. Colin Bell (D-Margate).
In 2019, Mazzeo and Armato are facing off against Republicans John Risley, an Atlantic County Freeholder, and Brigantine Mayor Philip Guenther.
In the 2016 Presidential election, Hillary Clinton carried the 2nd district by a margin of 11.8% over Donald Trump, winning by 10,383 votes. This district has a lot of its population consolidated in three municipalities — Hamilton, Atlantic City, and Egg Harbor City — which in 2016 accounted for 48% of the votes cast in this district.
Clinton won the vote share of these municipalities by a margin of nearly 20% while winning the remaining 52% of the vote by a smaller 4% margin. However, her large victory in the larger municipalities combined with her small win in the smaller municipalities propelled Clinton to carry this district by nearly 12%.
In the 2017 Gubernatorial election, Phil Murphy carried the 2nd district by a margin of 17.32% over Kim Guadagno, winning by 8,683 votes.
The 2017 vote share from Hamilton, Atlantic City, and Egg Harbor City counted for 46.8% of the vote and was won by Murphy by a massive margin of 26%, which combined with his 9.6% win of the smaller municipalities in the district, helped him carry this district by his impressive 17% margin. Murphy carried all the municipalities that Hillary Clinton and Bob Menendez carried, alongside Margate, Buena Vista, Absecon, Northfield, and Somers Point.
U.S. Senator Bob Menendez carried the 2nd by a margin of 2.3% over Republican Bob Hugin, winning by 1,602 votes in his bid for a third term.
Menendez carried this district by the smallest margin out of all 3 recent statewide Democrats. He carried the combined vote share of Hamilton, Atlantic City, and Egg Harbor City by 10.6%. In 2018 these three municipalities counted for 46.8% of the vote.
Meanwhile, he lost the remaining 53.2% of the vote by a margin of 5.06% to Hugin. He was able to win this district by a small margin in part due to an acceptable for a Democrat performance in the larger municipalities, while holding on to enough of the vote in the smaller municipalities. Menendez lost Egg Harbor Township, the municipality with the most recorded votes in the district, to Hugin. This municipality previously went to Clinton and Murphy.
The Republicans are currently targeting this seat to try and narrow down the Democratic super-majority in the State Assembly. There are two paths to victory in this district: GOP to achieve. One is winning a majority of the vote in Hamilton, Atlantic City, and Egg Harbor, by a margin of 5% or more, while holding the line in the less populated municipalities, and keeping their margin there close to Hugin’s 2018 performance. The other path to victory for the GOP is to win the smaller municipalities by a large margin, at least 10-15%, and either outright win the vote in Hamilton, Atlantic City, and Egg Harbor, or only lose it by a very small margin.