By Patrick Murray | November 9th, 2012 - 5:02pm
| More

An unknown number of provisional ballots remain to be counted in New Jersey, but a few threads are emerging on the presidential election.  Turnout in the Garden State was down by a lot.  Currently, the number of people who casts votes in the presidential election about 500,000 less than in 2008 – about a 14% drop.

That gap will certainly shrink as provisional ballots are tallied, but it will still mark the biggest drop in turnout of all the states.  Nationwide estimates provided by Edison Research of Somerville – the firm that conducts the TV networks’ exit poll – suggest that turnout will only have dropped by about 2% nationally compared to 2008.  New Jersey’s turnout is far behind that figure.

Let’s assume that total turnout in New Jersey ends up being nearly 3.5 million.  This represents about 63% of registered voters, which would be the lowest percentage on record since 1972, when 18-year olds were given the right to vote.  But the voter rolls may not be the best base for comparison.  Registration numbers took a big jump in 2008 because of concerted registration efforts and in 1996 because of the Motor Voter law. Prior to that, fewer eligible voters were actually registered.

If we consider turnout as a percentage of the total voting age population (VAP) or of the voting eligible population (VEP), this year’s numbers hold up against past elections.  Using about 3.5 million voters as a final estimate, New Jersey turnout may wind up being 51% of VAP or 59% of VEP.  Those results either match or exceed statewide turnout in both 1996 and 2000.

Given what the state has gone through over the past two weeks, these turnout numbers don’t look all that bad.

Now let’s look at how New Jersey voted in the presidential contest.  Nationwide, Barack Obama’s winning margin was smaller than it was in 2008.  This trend was true in nearly every state.  In fact, only four states showed Obama improve on his margin from four years ago.

These four states include Alaska, where he narrowed his losing gap by 8 points, and the Gulf States of Louisiana and Mississippi, where he lost by about a point and a half less than in 2008.

And this group also includes one blue state where Obama actually increased his winning margin.  That would be New Jersey, where the president’s margin went from about 15.5 points in 2008 to 17 points this year.

It’s worth noting that polls conducted before Hurricane Sandy hit the state showed Obama with only a 12 point lead on average.  It’s also worth noting that those same polls showed U.S. Senate incumbent Bob Menendez with an average 19 point lead – which is what he actually got on Election Day.

There is no doubt that Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy had an impact on how New Jersey voted in the presidential race -- 54% of New Jersey voters told exit pollsters that Obama's response to the disaster was an important factor in their vote.  Some observers, though, put Obama's winning margin down to a lower turnout in the harder hit Republican shore towns.  This certainly happened, but Democratic urban areas were also affected.

Using the preliminary vote counts, turnout in Ocean County was down about 19% compared to 2008.  But it was also down 19% in Essex County and 17% in Hudson County.

The difference is who turned out in those counties.  Obama cut his losing margin in Ocean County from about 18.5 points in 2008 to 17.5 points in 2012.  And he improved his winning margins in Essex by 3 points and Hudson by 9 points.

In Gloucester County, an area of the state spared most of Sandy’s wrath, turnout was down by just 4%.  Obama’s winning margin there went from 12 points in 2008 to just under 11 points this year.  Based on this result, even if more voters could have made it out to vote, Obama’s statewide margin may have dropped by only a couple of points.  This is still better than how he was doing in Garden State polls prior to Sandy.

A note on national polling:

It appears that nearly all national polls performed well within their individual margins of error, but most – including Monmouth’s – had a slight Republican skew in the nominal horse race.  So all those folks who claimed that we needed to “unskew” the polls were partially right.  They just had it in the wrong direction – which they would never admit, of course.  As Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly asked Karl Rove, “Is this just math that you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better or is this real?”  As we now know, it’s definitely not the latter.

My first-read suggests that the pollsters who came closest to the mark – which may end up being as much as a 3 point win for Obama when all the votes are counted – employed samples with more voters who are contactable by cell phone only.  This gibes with the exit poll findings that showed an increase in the proportion of the electorate who were under the age 30 or not Caucasian (i.e. Black, Latino, and Asian).  Young voters made up 19% of the electorate – compared to 18% in 2008 – and non-white voters comprised 28% of the electorate – up from a then-record 26% in 2008.

These groups are emerging as solid Democratic voting blocs.  As recently as eight years ago, young voters and Asians, and to a lesser extent Latinos, were much more up for grabs to the GOP.  Now they are solidly Democratic – and they are reachable only by cell phone or other electronic device.

Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: August 28th

Chris Christie's Jekyll & Hyde complex We all know the story: An amiable, even-keeled doctor, in an effort to separate the good from his darker impulses, concocts and consumes a secret potion that, momentarily, induces a metamorphosis of physical and mental being and turns him into a monstrous and...

Op-Ed

White House’s Tuition Challenge Being Met in NJ

By MICHAEL W. KLEIN In his weekly radio address on August 16, President Obama challenged colleges “to do their part to bring down costs” and lighten the tuition burden on students.  The state colleges and universities in New Jersey have... Read More >

Contributors

My Republican Hillary Clinton Experience    There is a veritable plethora of reportage in print, internet, television and radio media speculating as to whether Hillary Clinton will seek the Democratic... more »
(8-27-14) All Americans Should Support Gov. Perry - Political prosecutions have no place in American life. Those who use the justice system as they are using it in Texas... more »
(Asbury Park, NJ) -- There's a word for someone who says one thing and does another: hypocrite.  There's no shortage of 'em in Trenton -- from ... more »
 The following letter was sent today to Republican state legislators, county chairs, state committee members, and New Hampshire... more »

Quote of the Day

quote of the day

"He was a focal point for the disturbance." - former New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne (the Essex County Prosecutor in July 1967), of former Newark Mayor Hugh Addonizio

- PolitickerNJ

Poll

Who is a better field general for his party as both try to win governor's races around the country?:

Blogroll

Visit the PolitickerNJ.com/resources page for links to the best collection of information on New Jersey state government.

 

  • Polls
  • The best blogs
  • Columnists
  • State election results
  • Assembly election results
  • Local party websites
  • And more.

PolitickerNJ.com/resources