Less than three weeks before a pandemic pandemic period conducted primarily by mail, Democrats in New Jersey are returning ballots at rates that beat Republicans in some of the state’s most conservative strongholds .
In the countryside in the north, on the Jersey Shore and in the country horse, Democrats beat Republicans in the mailbox – and the drop box – in an election in which each voter was mailed a ballot on November 3.
In Ocean County, home to more Republicans than any other part of the state, nearly 39 percent of registered Democrats voted on Wednesday, compared with 25 percent of Republicans, provincial records show. Rural Sussex County has almost the same split: More than 39 percent of Democrats returned ballots on Wednesday, compared to 24 percent of Republicans.
While many states have seen an influx of mail-in voting, New Jersey is just one of four states where the rate of return has eclipsed 25 percent of the state’s total turnout four years ago. ago.
Pollsters, legislators and campaign consultants see this as a sign of strength for Democrats who are eager to show their satisfaction with a polarizing president and a measure of distrust of Republicans by voting in the mail – a tactic attacked by President Trump, without evidence, is ripe for fraud.
Republican leaders said they expect an in-person ballot clash near Election Day.
“They are very suspicious in the mail,” said State Senator Joseph Pennacchio, a Republican chairman who re-campaigned in the New Jersey presidential election recommending voters to use drop boxes. “If you have a $ 100 charge, would you trust putting $ 100 in the mail? Of course not.”
However, two years after a midterm water election saw Democrats back four seats in state congress, political analysts say the mail trend could suggest more problems for Republicans struggling to maintain a foothold in an increasingly liberal state.
Before Representative Jeff Van Drew moved parties in December, there was only one Republican representing New Jersey in Congress: Chris Smith, who was in his 20th term in office. Mr. Van Drew, a vocal opponent of the president’s impeachment, is vying for his political life against Amy Kennedy, a first-time candidate and former school teacher married to a nephew of President John F. Kennedy.
A poll released this month showed Ms. Kennedy with a five-point advantage in the conservative-leaning district, which the president won in 2016.
But it was a contest between State Senator Tom Kean Jr. and Representative Tom Malinowski – in a district that crosses northern New Jersey – that many observers are watching closely.
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Mr. Kean, a Republican, was the son of Thomas H. Kean, a respected former governor who presided over the September 11 terror attacks; Mr. Malinowski is a freshman Democrat elected in 2018 as part of the so-called blue wave lined up against Mr. Trump.
Given the recognition of Senator Kean’s name and family ties, the outcome of the race – rated likely to be a “Democratic lean” Cook Political Report – is seen as something of a litmus test for centrist Republicans.
“Is Tom Malinowski spreading to Kean?” asked Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.
“And does this mean that Tom Kean Sr.’s brand of Republicanism is dead?” He added.
County clerks are required to send ballots to every registered voter in New Jersey no later than October 5. In many parts of the state, election officials began issuing ballots in mid-September, allowing voters who submit their ballots more than a month before Election Day by mail, or at an election office or secure drop box.
Residents can also deliver paper ballots on Nov. 3 at their polling place or an election office; people with disabilities may request to use voting machines.
As it has done in other states, Trump’s campaign has accused New Jersey of trying to block mail voting and early ballot counting, which is expected to begin in just a week.
Mr. Pennacchio said the transfer of ballots on paper was a play on the political power of the Democrats, dressed as a necessary safety associated with the pandemic.
“There’s no reason in the world that New Jersey can’t vote in person,” said Mr. Pennacchio, who acknowledged that people were still standing in lines inside stores and outside car offices. This week, Governor Philip D. Murphy, a Democrat, also allowed full-contact winter sports such as basketball and wrestling to begin in schools.
Mr. Pennacchio, a Brooklyn-born dentist and former Democrat who now helps lead the Republican Party in Morris County, called Mr. Trump a “poster boy for traditional values” who never lost sight of him. of his constituents.
“He could have killed the King’s English from time to time, and God knew he was tweeting too much, but he turned his back on me,” Mr. Pennacchio said. “When he went to Washington, he took me with him.”
Ballots run on the offer of just an early snapshot of voter response to New Jersey’s largest mail voting test, and numbers change with the day.
But the rate of return has raised an eyebrow at the rank-and-file Republicans.
In Hunterdon County, Republicans control the provincial government and more Democrats number nearly 13,000 voters. But by the end of last week, 43 percent of registered Democrats had voted, compared with 25 percent of Republicans in a province sitting within Mr. Malinowski’s district.
“It says there is a real passion,” said Christine Todd Whitman, a Republican from Hunterdon County and the only woman elected governor in New Jersey.
Ms. Whitman was a vocal opponent of Mr. Trump and a leader of Republicans and Independents for Biden, a group endorsed by former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. for the president.
If Mr. Trump loses, Ms. Whitman, his supporters will fall under one wing of the party, and centrists can begin rebuilding. If he wins, the job will be harder, he said, but not impossible.
“We will try to get it back, but that does not mean it is dead,” Ms. Whitman about the celebration that he, like his father and grandparents before him, once helped lead.
“We will not stop trying to give American citizens a center party,” he added, “because that’s where most people are.”
But New Jersey’s support for a Republican Party transformed into Mr. Trump’s image is also clearly shown in the full embrace of the Republican president locked in close congressional races in the swing districts, and in strong rallies for the president.
A campaign-style event in February featuring Mr. Trump in Wildwood, NJ, drew thousands of enthusiastic fans, many of whom endured freezing temperatures as they waited in line for two. day. On Labor Day weekend, supporters of the president gathered on the shore for a flotilla that participants estimated had pulled out 2,400 boats.
In a televised debate last week, Mr. Van Drew closely surrounded Mr. Trump’s positions on issues including immigration, police and the origin of the coronavirus, which Mr. Van Drew said, “perhaps came from a laboratory – we do not know if it is even genetically mutated. “U.S. scientists and intelligence agencies agree that there is a high probability that the virus has changed in nature.
David Richter, a Republican running for reinstatement of Andy Kim – a democratic congressman who won a narrow victory to regain his seat in 2018 – was abandoned by the president after he was ousted from running in the Second Congress by Mr. Van Drew’s party switch. But now, after he rented a house in a neighboring district to challenge Mr. Kim, his fundraising site said he “proudly stands with President Trump.”
New Jersey is one of four states with an early turnout rate of more than 25 percent of its total turnout in 2016, according to the United States Elections Project, an information hub run by Michael McDonald, a University professor of Florida
Jesse Burns, executive director of the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of New Jersey, believes the increase in voting is directly linked to the pandemic.
Voters this year were animated not only by marquee races, he said, but by elections for local school boards and county legislators, which became more relevant to their daily lives. lives as residents struggle to find virus testing sites or adapted to remote education.
“People realize that they are making decisions about how their children go to school,” said Ms. Burns.
John Froonjian, executive director of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University, directed the premiere in July, though non-opposition candidates drew the number of votes.
Votes for Representative Donald Norcross, a Democrat who ran unopposed in the primary, was twice what they were two years ago when he had two challengers. Mr. Kim, with no major opposition, garnered 79,423 votes, more than the combined 58,592 votes for Mr. Richter and opponent Kate Gibbs, who was locked in a vigorous race for the nomination of Republican.
“All these signs show a high level of enthusiasm,” Professor Froonjian said. “They can’t seem to wait to vote.”