Assembly race 2015: Democrats achieve stellar gains, incumbency remains strong, strategic spending largely succeeds, and turnout is deplorable

In a nutshell:

  • Democrats turned in a stellar performance gaining 3 (or possibly 4) seats in the Assembly.
  • Strategic, large Democrat spending succeeded in LD 1, 11, and 38, but not so much in LD 2.
  • The advantage of incumbency remains paramount as only three incumbents (or possibly four) lost their seat.
  • The turnout was deplorable – in many cases in 2015 only about half as many people voted than in 2013.
  • Although races primarily devolve into local issues (particularly casinos in the south) it is probable that Republicans were hurt by Christie’s scandals, absence from New Jersey, low popularity, low support efforts for Republican candidates, and his excessive control over his legislative colleagues who were virtually forced to go along with his vetoes of bills they (and many of their constituents) had supported.

Here is a look at selected races – close ones and those in which there was no or only one incumbent. The results for 2015 include 100% of all precincts reporting, but there are still some additional uncounted ballots:

LD1: Parts of Atlantic, Cape May, and Cumberland counties. 2013 turnout: 110,011. 2015 turnout: 71,719.
A lot of Democratic dollars were spent in this split district. The result is now two Democrats. Challenger Bruce Land (D) defeated incumbent Sam Fiocchi (R). Incumbent Bob Andrzejczak (D) retains his seat.

LD 2: Parts of Atlantic, Cape May, and Cumberland counties. 2013 turnout: 101,596. 2015 turnout: 64,025.
A lot of Democratic dollars were also spent in this split district. The two incumbents Chris Brown (R) and Vincent Mazzeo (D) won in a close race.

LD 5: Parts of Camden and Gloucester counties. 2013 turnout: 84,739. 2015 turnout : 48,686. There were no incumbents in this race, and the two Democrats Patricia Jones and Arthur Barclay won handily.

LD 11: Parts of Monmouth County. 2013 turnout; 99,043. 2015 turnout: 53,529.
Democrats diverted funds into this very close race which resulted in a stunning loss for the two Republican incumbents, Mary Pat Angelini and Caroline Casagrande, and victory for the two Democrats Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey.

LD 16: Parts of Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, and Somerset counties: 2013 turnout: 111,664. 2015 turnout: 64,728.
In this race with two Republican incumbents, incumbent Jack Ciattarelli (R) won, but incumbent Donna Simon (R) as of late last night was losing a very close one to newcomer Andrew Zwicker (D).

LD 22: Parts of Middlesex, Somerset, and Union counties. 2013 turnout: 82,201. 2015 turnout: 37,465.
The one incumbent Jerry Green (D) won as did James Kennedy (D) by a wide margin.

LD 24: Parts of Morris, Sussex, and Warren counties. 2013 turnout: 103,786. 2015 turnout: 51,318.
Another district with only one incumbent, Parker Space (R), who won with Gail Phoebus (R) overwhelmingly.

LD 31: Parts of Hudson County. 2013 turnout: 48,644. 2015 turnout: 26,547.
With no incumbents, Angela McKnight (D) and Nicholas Chiaravalloti (D) won decisively.

LD 33: Parts of Hudson County. 2013 turnout: 55,138. 2015 turnout: 30,945.
The one incumbent Raj Mukerji (D) and Annette Chaparro (D) won overwhelmingly.

LD 38: Parts of Bergen and Passaic counties.  2013 turnout: 104,101. 2015 turnout: 62,822.
In this hotly contested race, with close results in 2013, and large Democratic spending in 2015, the two incumbent Democrats Tim Eustace and Joseph Lagana won handily. (Republican challenger Anthony Cappola who wrote the bigoted book Outrageous! managed to get 20% of the vote.)

 

Sources: 

2015 turnout and election results

2013 turnout 

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