The only president born in New Jersey was Grover Cleveland, whose bid for the White House came after he had been elected mayor of Buffalo and governor of New York.
Born in Caldwell, Cleveland remains the only Essex County native to win the presidency — Yes, that was a not-too-subtle dig.
Democrat Cleveland carried New Jersey in all three of his presidential campaigns.
He beat James Blaine in 1884 by a 50%-47% margin.
Benjamin Harrison defeated Cleveland in 1888, but the incumbent president carried New Jersey by a 50%-48% margin.
In his 1892 rematch, Cleveland won New Jersey by a 51%-46% margin.
Cleveland retired to Princeton after leaving the White House in 1897. That year, some Democrats sough to draft him as their candidate for United States Senator.
Other Post-Civil War Presidential Elections
After the Civil War, New Jersey backed Democratic presidential candidates in three of the next four elections.
Ulysses Grant lost New Jersey in 1868 – 51%-49% against Horatio Seymour– but carried the state by a 54.5%-45.5% margin when he ran for re-election against Horace Greeley in 1872.
New Jersey went for New York Gov. Samuel Tilden against Rutherford Hayes in 1876 (53%-47%), and for Winfield Hancock against James Garfield in 1880 (50%-49%).
Following Cleveland’s retirement, New Jersey went Republican in the next three elections.
William McKinley carried New Jersey in a landslide – 60%-36% — against William Jennings Bryan in 1896. Former New Jersey Senate President Garret Hobart was elected vice president in that election.
When McKinley sought re-election in 1900, he won New Jersey by a 55%-41% margin in a rematch with Bryan.
Theodore Roosevelt carried New Jersey by a 57%-38% margin in 1904, and William Howard Taft by a 57%-39% margin in Bryan’s third presidential bid.