Cross Posted from Retire Garrett
Scott Garrett received 87% of the 27, 567 votes cast in the Republican Primary. That’s about the overall percentage one would expect to see for a five term incumbent running in a primary. What surprises me is how he won it. The narrative everyone has come to rely upon is that Warren and Sussex Counties are the most “Republican” parts of the district whereas Bergen and Passaic Counties tend to lean more toward the middle but still favor Garrett.
Would it surprise you to learn that Garrett performed best in Bergen County? How is it possible that Scott Garrett got 93% (12, 090) of the votes cast there? Bergen County is the home of both of his primary opponents and he thrashed them in their own backyards.
Garrett’s second best performance was in Passaic County. He received 90% (1,843) of the votes cast there. In Sussex County – the county where Scott Garrett resides – he “only” received 83% (6,225) of the votes. His worst performance was in Warren County where he still managed to garner 78% (3,897) of the votes cast.
What explains this possible anomaly? Was Garrett focusing all his efforts on the new parts of Bergen County and taking his “home turf” for granted? Did his challengers figure they’d do best in Bergen where people knew them so they shifted their attention out west? Have Bergen and Passaic Counties warmed up to Scott Garrett’s brand of conservative politics?
On the Democratic side of the aisle, Adam Gussen won this race in Bergen County. 94.7% of his votes (9,323) came from Bergen County. Gussen received 72% (332) of the vote in Passaic County, but couldn’t even muster 200 votes in Warren and Sussex Counties combined. By comparison, Castle received 1,731 votes in Warren and Sussex counties, but there simply weren’t enough Democrats voting there to make a real impact on the outcome.
17,969 votes were cast in total on Democratic candidates in the 5th. 15,197 of those votes were cast in Bergen County. Bergen County represents roughly 70% of the residents in the 5th Congressional District yet yesterday 84.5% percent of the voters who turned out to the polls live in Bergen County.
After congratulating Mr. Castle on a race well-run, Mr. Gussen and his team would be well-served to dig into the numbers to try to understand what happened yesterday. If previous Democratic attempts to unseat Scott Garrett can be used as a benchmark, Adam Gussen will not be running a well-financed race. That’s not a criticism of Gussen; it’s just the likeliest scenario. Given this fact, Gussen will need to know the actual voters he needs to turn out in November and focus his efforts in a rifle-shot effort. A shot-gun approach has not and will not work.
We can afford to wait a few days to allow Congressman Rothman to gather himself before we ask him to honor his commitment to help our efforts in the 5th. However, Democratic leaders in Bergen and Passaic should be on the phone with Congressman Pascrell today asking him to help us raise money, host events and commit manpower to making the 5th a competitive race.
You’ll be hearing more from me on this topic in the days ahead.