73%, 47%, 43% … 32%?

Update:  And the answer is … an all-time low of 26%. That’s just sad. -JG

New Jersey is unique in so many ways, not the least of which is our 4-year election cycle. Unlike most other states, which combine their federal and state races and take a break every other year, we have critical elections each and every year. But, unfortunately, we have a hard time keeping voters’ attention, so the cycle ends up looking like this:

  • Year One: the Presidential Year – even in years where the outcome is a foregone conclusion, voters will come out to register their choice. In 2008, NJ voter turnout was 73%.
  • Year Two: the Gubernatorial Year – one of only two states that elect their governor the year after electing a president, turnout drops off significantly, but there’s still pretty good participation. In 2009, NJ voter turnout was 47%.
  • Year Three: the Midterms – whether a referendum on the President, or the Congress, the midterms carry national attention, but never seem to draw the same voter participation. Despite the highly charged atmosphere in 2010, NJ voter turnout was only 43%.
  • And now Year Four: the Legislative Election – the entire legislative branch of government in our state is up for election – all 40 Senate seats, all 80 Assembly seats. And, what kind of turnout should we expect? Well, if history serves as a guide – in 2007, NJ voter turnout was a paltry 32%.

    That’s a shame. Because there are vitally important races, not just in LD2, LD7, LD11, LD14, LD16, LD27 and LD38, but frankly, every District. Not to mention important county elections, and municipal races with great candidates in Hawthorne, Fair Lawn, Red Bank, Parsippany, Berkeley Heights, Pt. Pleasant and many other places around the state. If one race doesn’t interest you, another one should. If you can’t think of a race you want to help with, let me know – I guarantee I can hook you up with a worthy campaign near you that needs your help.

    It may be preaching to the choir to tell the Blue Jersey audience to vote on Tuesday. But, that choir needs to sing out: don’t just vote, but get friends, family, neighbors and co-workers who share your values to vote on Tuesday. In Year Four of our election cycle, turnout is everything.

  • Comments (31)

    1. 12mileseastofTrenton

      The lack of competitive races is certainly a factor.  Also, there are probably a lot of Democrats discouraged by the performance of the “Democratic” legislature.

      I know I will be voting for the Greenstein, Benson, D’Angleo ticket.  But I’m one of the lucky ones who actually has a real Democratic ticket to vote for.  If you’re in places like much of south Jersey, and parts of Essex and Hudson counties, you might think, what’s the point?

    2. tabbycat31

      Rated R +30+ in the recent Politicker article.

      Here I am working in a very competitive South Jersey race where I am putting all my effort into increasing turnout in cities that typically have a very low voter participation rate.  

      It’s glamorous to vote for President.  Presidential years have historically higher turnout.  But the smaller the office, the more of an impact it has on you.  

      I know that i am preaching to the choir here but just GOTV dammit!

    3. ken bank

      He must be smoking something to spend his limited resources on an ad that does nothing more than alienate an important part of his political base. It’s the political equivalent of Plaxico Burress shooting himself in the foot.

      And then why does Steve Sweeney have to get involved to smooth things over? Doesn’t Bob Gordon know how to sit down and talk to his own supporters? Why does his campaign manager have to issue a flimsy statement, can’t Gordon speak for himself on such an issue of great importance to a significant part of his political base?

      Besides, since when has the use of economic development bonds to stimulate thousands of jobs in a depressed economy become anathema to Democrats? The only issue was whether the bonds could be issued for the Meadowlands since technically it is not a “distressed” community. The legislature had to pass an enabling act for the bonds to be issued. Did Gordon vote for or against? If he voted “yes” then he is a hypocrite.

      This is undountedly the most important race of the campaign, and turnout is everything which is all the more reason not to alienate the people you depend on to GOTV. A GOP victory here will boost Chrisite immeasurably, and embolden the GOP to further advance their agenda. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if Gordon manages to pull this one out despite his ineptitude. The only positive outcome from a Gordon loss is that maybe the Dems can take the seat back in two years with a more competent candidate.

      I think the following comment someone posted on PolitckerNJ sums it up best: “Gordon might even start having problems in Bergenfield and Lodi because of this. What low-fructose muffin munching Upper West Side elitist idiot consultant told him to run this?

      Somewhere John Girgenti is laughing.”


    4. Bertin Lefkovic

      …is stoking this issue behind the scenes.  Gordon was with Codey in 2009 and Sweeney doesn’t need him to remain Senate President.  If anything, he would prefer to get someone as principled as Bob out of the way and run someone else who he can control in two years.

      This is the beginning of a civil war within the Democratic Party and organized labor.  On the outside looking in are Democrats like Codey, Cryan, and Gordon and the public employee unions.  On the inside, cozy and warm, are Sweeney’s beloved building and construction trades, who want construction to occur no matter how unnecessary it might be, how environmentally damaging it might be, or how inappropriate it might be to be paid for with public dollars, because all they want are the jobs that construction produces, by any means necessary.

      But it would be one thing if the B&CTs were just upset if Bob Gordon was just someone who was standing in the way of something that would provide them with construction jobs, especially since the ad in question, which criticizes the public bonding for private purposes, is not going to prevent the bonding or the construction from taking place.  It is another thing entirely that Ray Pocino, whose Laborers are based in South Jersey, are not the least bit concerned about the fact that by defeating Gordon, they would be handing a huge victory to Chris Christie, the man who stopped the ARC tunnel project, which would have provided them with far more construction jobs for a much longer period of time than this nonsensical money pit.  This issue is not about construction jobs.  This issue is about taking out Bob Gordon.

      If Gordon loses this race, because he had the guts to oppose public bonding for a private boondoggle like The American Nightmare/Xanadu, he should get a Profiles in Courage award as he would be one of a select few people in Trenton to do and say the right thing on an issue regardless of how it impacts his electoral chances.

    5. Jeff Gardner (Post author)

      On the one hand, there’s SO much attention being paid and money spent in LD38, that you might expect higher than usual turnout.

      But, most of the mail and television has been negative, which would tend to depress turnout.

      So, where the wheel stops, nobody knows.

    6. firstamend07

      Many years ago,when CWA was active and relevant in state politics,they did a very smart thing.

      They got their bosses to include as part of their contract a day off for election day.It was brilliant. What other employee organization gets a paid day off to go vote ,up or down, on their employers!

      But over the past 6 years the current CWA leadership has made this all irrelevant. Ove 60,000 CWA members are off on Tuesday and maybe 2% will be involved in some sort of GOTV.

      That is due to horrible political leadership by the CWA top people.

      With a paid day off 98% of the CWA members ,along with their clueless leadership,will be sleeping in.

      Imagine the potential political power of all of those people.

      What a waste……  

    7. Thurman Hart

      there are about as many reasons to vote as there are snowmen in hell.  

    8. Jeff Gardner (Post author)

      In fact, turnout reached an all-time low of 26%.

      That’s just sad.


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