June 15, 2024
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Bergen Post-Election Analysis

Bergen is considered a bellwether county; that is, election results here are considered to be an indicator of future trends for people and places beyond Bergen. With more residents than any other county in the state, Bergen County is considered a melting pot: 60.5 percent white, 17.3 percent Latino, 14 percent Asian and 5.1 percent black. A win for a politician here is considered to be a sign that he or she is doing enough right to hit all the demographics; a win in a bellwether county is an indicator of future wins in elections geared toward a larger populace.

Since 1996, Bergen has voted Democrat in the presidential race. This fact, combined with the county’s diversity, means that a win here for a Republican has real significance. Newly reelected Governor Chris Christie, Republican, had 60.2 percent of residents’ votes. Online political oddsmakers place the odds at seven to one for Christie to get the GOP nomination for 2016 and 14 to one for him to win it all.

This, in addition to Christie’s win of 51 percent of the Latino vote and 20 percent of black voters, has given a lot of hope to Christie supporters. However, an Edison Research exit poll concerning a hypothetical 2016 showdown between Christie and Hillary Clinton, shows the governor garnering much less support. The polls showed Clinton receiving 57 percent of New Jersey Latino vote and 86 percent of the black vote.

Besides for the gubernatorial position, there were six state senate, 12 general assembly, one county sheriff, three freeholder, and a myriad of town council positions open throughout the county’s six legislative districts. Democrats claimed two-thirds of the open state senate seats and just under two-thirds of the open seats in the General Assembly. Michael Saudino, Republican, was reelected sheriff and, of the three freeholder seats up, two went to Republicans and one to a Democrat making the full breakdown on the council five to two with a Democratic majority.

Bob Yudin, Republican County Chairman, referred to Bergen County as a swing county. Bergen used to be a very strong Republican county and then, for a number of years it was a very strong Democratic County. Four years ago Governor Christie lost the vote here, but this year he won by the biggest margin since Thomas Kean in 1985.

“It was a huge municipal win for us in most of Bergen County,” Yudin said. “We won in towns that we haven’t won in for decades.”

The “huge municipal win” wasn’t complete on a state legislature level, something which Yudin put down to redistricting and gerrymandering. He said that legislative districts 35-37 are impossible for Republicans to win and that one district 38 is the only truly competitive won in the county. Legislative districts 39 and 40 have been solidly Republican for many years.

The coattails effect, something which allows members of a party to win on the heels of a popular candidate of that party’s win, was not in effect in New Jersey as a state

By Aliza Chazan

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