Election dynamics, a week ahead: Polarized parties, shrinking universe of undecided voters, Leroy Jones leading Democratic GOTV and a last-minute Joe Biden factor emerges

A week to go. At this point, the New Jersey gubernatorial race is closer than I thought, as seen in the Emerson College poll released last Friday, showing incumbent Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy with a six point lead over his Republican challenger. , former Assembly member Jack Ciattarelli. . I remain confident, however, in my prediction of a Murphy’s victory over Ciattarelli, probably in the high single-digit range.

In the Trump era, the decision of the New Jersey principal voter is based much more on party identification than on issues per se. Party identification and allegiance has become, more than anything else, a function of the voter attitude towards Donald Trump.

In America polarized by Trump, the typical registered party voter will fundamentally ignore the problematic positions and often even the candidate’s records and will simply proceed to vote for his party’s standard bearers, as long as they adhere to the party’s position. left. on Donald Trump. Indeed, the Trump factor and the resulting polarization is so pervasive and emotional that Democrats and Republicans, on the whole, find it repugnant to even consider voting for a candidate from the other party.

As a result, the polarization caused by Trump allowed each of this year’s two nominees for New Jersey to win the overwhelming majority of their respective parties. There are a million more registered Democrats than Republicans, so participation is key. If Democrats get back to their normal gubernatorial year percentage, Murphy wins comfortably. If Democratic turnout is below average, independent voters may hold the key to the election outcome.

In this regard, the anti-Trump strategy of the Murphy campaign has already succeeded. The anti-Trump factor in the Murphy campaign ads, showing in detail Ciattarelli’s deep allegiance to Donald Trump, bolstered party loyalty in every party and prevented Ciattarelli from garnering a significant percentage of the Democratic vote. Murphy campaign advertising, “Our way”, was a work of art in this regard.

Ciattarelli surprised many pundits, including myself, however, by partly making up for his lack of Democratic voters by amassing a substantial plurality among independent voters. He gained this advantage by winning the votes of independent men, based on his efficient use of the tax issue.

Ciattarelli’s most powerful tool to attract these male voters is his advertising, “A problem”, one of the most effective governor’s campaign ads I have ever seen. It has a clip from Phil Murphy’s movie saying, “If you’re a one-problem voter and the tax rate is your problem, we’re probably not your state.”

Now, I wouldn’t be surprised if this Murphy’s statement with the resulting clip was taken out of context. In fact, taking statements out of context is the rule, rather than the exception, in both political parties when it comes to television commercials. So I think this Ciattarelli campaign ad is fair game.

While this Ciattarelli ad has a definite appeal to independent women voters as well as to independent voters, the Murphy campaign has succeeded in retaining a substantial proportion of independent women because of its record (paid family leave) and its positions (freedom to vote). procreation) on questions. of particular concern to women. In fact, in the remaining days of the campaign, I expect this to be the pattern for undecided voters, with 1) Ciattarelli receiving the votes of most of the currently undecided men on the basis of the tax issue; and 3) Murphy receiving the majority of currently undecided women, based on women’s issues and her performance on Covid 19.

The major obstacle now to a victory for Ciattarelli is that there is no longer enough undecided to make up for his lack of Democratic voters. The share of likely voters who are undecided has fallen to less than seven percent.

More importantly, I expect the Democrats to succeed in pushing out the vote (GOTV), led by Democratic State President Leroy Jones, who is an accomplished politician, master of street politics, black and white, popular politics, behind-the-scenes politics and community organizing politics.

I have had almost daily conversations with Leroy Jones over the past month. It already has a strong GOTV program underway, focusing on all three modes of voting, including Election Day Voting Sites, Advance Voting and Postal Voting (VBM). I’ll describe Jones’ ongoing efforts on GOTV in a column later this week.

Against Leroy Jones, the Republicans are chaired by Bob Hugin. He is an excellent fundraiser, but has no experience in street politics, including GOTV.

The last time there was an election dependent on GOTV’s success was in 1997, between Republican Gov. Christie Whitman and Democratic challenger Jim McGreevey. The then Republican President of New Jersey was former Assembly Speaker Garabed “Chuck” Haytaian. He and the late former Republican State President Frank Holman, Jr. were the two best Republican street politicians of the last century.

In 1997, Chuck, as president of the state, led the best Republican GOTV effort in the history of the New Jersey Republican Party. Without Chuck’s efforts, Christie Whitman would have been beaten by Jim McGreevey. Unfortunately for Jack Ciattarelli, Bob Hugin is not a Chuck Haytaian.

And Leroy Jones could benefit from additional unanticipated help if Joe Biden is able to strike a deal ahead of election day that would ensure his $ 1.2 trillion brick-and-mortar infrastructure package goes through the investments in infrastructure and jobs and at least $ 2.0 trillion of its $ 3.5. Trillion Build Better Social Infrastructure Program. Such an event would have a galvanizing effect on grassroots Democrats across New Jersey. That would translate to a near double-digit victory for Murphy and a return victory for Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia gubernatorial contest.

The boost to Democratic participation would have the most impact in urban New Jersey. The African-American vote was key to Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential victory over Donald Trump. Polls and anecdotal evidence suggest that while African Americans still support Joe Biden and his policies, there is a sense of disappointment among them that Biden has not been able to deliver on his promises. A deal this week on those two infrastructure packages would raise African-American enthusiasm for Biden to stratospheric levels and, therefore, most significantly increase urban Democratic turnout in New Jersey on Election Day.

There is no doubt that a budget victory for Joe Biden before next Tuesday, November 2, would be the cause of a Democratic celebration at the Mardi Gras level in New Jersey on Tuesday, November 2, 2021.

Alan J. Steinberg served as a Regional Administrator for Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and executive director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission.

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