Tomorrow’s Primary turnout as a harbinger for the General Election

In a recent discussion between two NJ political consultants, Michael DuHaime, the person behind Gov. Christie’s election successes, said, on June 5, “I will be watching to see if the turnout disparity is higher than usual. Primary turnout (or lack thereof) often can be an accurate barometer of partisan intensity for the fall.” Julie Roginsky, a career Democratic strategist and TV commentator, agreed, indicating, ‘It will tell us about how energized the base of both parties will be going into November.”

The Democratic resistance in four Republican-held congressional seats in play has been powerful with the result that two incumbents (LoBiondo CD2) and (Frelinghuysen CD 11) resigned, one has been issuing more moderate positions (Lance CD 7), and another (MacArthur CD 3) has changed little of his conservative policies. In addition throughout our state progressive advocates for such causes as as Black Lives Matter, #Me Too, immigration rights, gun safety, and Obamacare have been insistent on change. In the only Democratic congressional seat in play, CD 5 with incumbent Josh Gottheimer, we will also be able to gauge intensity. 

Republican turnout will also be of interest in a state where Trump is unpopular. Are Republicans demoralized? As there are Republican candidates in each of these five congressional districts who explicitly support Trump, how will they fare in terms of intensity?  

Below for the four Republican congressional seats and the one Democratic seat in play are Primary turnout data for 2016 (a presidential election year with typically a substantially higher turnout) and 2014 (a midterm election). Note that in most cases there were more than one candidate in each party vying in the primary, so the data represent the total party turnout vote and not necessarily the vote for an individual candidate in a party.

                  2016: R Votes – D Votes         2014: R votes – D Votes 

CD 2               39,913 –  41,893                       17,331 – 13,999

CD 3               46,264 – 52,489                        26,551 –  14,830            

CD  5              51,515 – 43,250                        15,972 – 10,560 

CD 7               59,006 –  46,152                       29,208 – 8,768

CD 11             58,527 –  49,230                       23,525 – 8,071

For the Democrats in tomorrow’s Primary in these five key districts will there be more Dems voting or a higher per cent of Dems over GOP candidates voting? In CD 2 the Democratic candidates are JEFF VAN DREW, TANZIRA “TANZIE” YOUNGBLOOD, WILLIAM CUNNINGHAM and NATE KLEINMAN. In CD 3 there is one Dem candidate ANDY KIM. In CD 5 there is one Dem candidate, the incumbent JOSH GOTTHEIMER. In CD 7 there are TOM MALINOWSKI, GOUTAM JOIS, and PETER JACOB. In CD 11 there are MIKIE SHERRILL, TAMARA HARRIS, MARK WASHBURNE, ALISON HESLIN, and MITCHELL H. COBERT.  

An April Stockton poll finds Republican Trump unpopular in New Jersey. 29 percent say he is doing a good or excellent job as president. About 70 percent gave him a negative review.  However, in the 2016 Presidential General Election where Hillary Clinton won by +14 points in New Jersey, in CD 2 Trump won by 5 points, in CD 3 by 6 points, in CD 5 by 1 point, and in CD 11 by 1 point. In CD 7 he lost by 1 point. In tomorrow’s election in all of these five congressional districts there is at least one candidate who explicitly supports Trump, so we will see how they fare. We will also see how strong the Republican turnout overall is in the Primary. 

Tomorrow once the primary election results are announced you can compare the actual turnout with the above 2014 and 2016 data. It is a test of of the hard work Democratic activists have performed and the general current intensity of Dem voters. It also will show the general intensity on the part of Republicans and how Trump supporters are responding. It’s a harbinger, but far from the final word as there are are five more months until the General Election. 

Sources: NJ Division of Elections 2014 Congressional election results and NJ Division of Elections 2016 Congressional election results 

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