Morris County Democratic Chairman Chip Robinson isn’t expecting turnout today to be much higher than it was in 2015.
“My personal gut is it’s going to a couple points higher than that,” he said, referring to 2015’s statewide turnout of 22%. “It’s not going to be the turnout it was last year or the year before. We’re really scratching and clawing for every vote everywhere.”
Turnout in Morris lagged three points behind the statewide average four years ago, the last time Assembly seats were at the top of the ticket.
If the number of vote by mail ballots cast are any indication — because of the state’s new VBM law, it’s not clear that they are — voters are still struck by a swell of enthusiasm that caused Democratic surges in 2018 and 2017.
Fully 43% of the mail-in ballots issued in the 25th district have been returned, and Democrats hold a seven-point lead there based on party registration.
All but one of the district’s municipalities are in Morris County.
“It’s an off-year election, but we think it’s going to be very close for all of these races — district 25, the countywide seats, a lot of the local seats,” Robinson said. “We’re increasingly in a purple county that’s very hotly-contested and competitive, and I think you’re going to see that all the way to the end. You’re going to see some very close elections.”
Democrats Lisa Bhimani and Darcy Draeger face State Sen. Anthony Bucco and Denville Councilman Brian Bergen in their bid to flip the district’s two Republican-held Assembly seats.
Robinson said he’d seen swells in Democratic turnout in Morris Township, adding that turnout was low in other parts of the county, in places like Lincoln Park and Harding.
The county chairman wasn’t fretting over the turnout figures—whether low or high, he thinks Democrats will benefit.
“I believe, even with a low turnout, it’s good for us because our people will continue to be motivated to vote,” Robinson said. “Ever since Donald Trump got elected, people, at least in this county on our side, have been really motivated and inspired to do something to change their communities, so I think that’s going to continue. I think our people are out there voting.”