Less than three weeks before the pandemic-era election, which is largely held by mail, Democrats in New Jersey return ballots with tariffs ahead of Republicans in some of the state’s most conservative strongholds.
In the rural north, on the coast of Jersey and in the equestrian state, Democrats are beating Republicans by mail – and the box – in elections where every voter has sent paper ballots to cast by November 3rd.
In Ocean County, where more Republicans live than anywhere else in the state, nearly 39 percent of registered Democrats voted by Wednesday, compared with 25 percent of Republicans, according to county data. Sussex County in rural areas has an almost identical division: More than 39 percent of Democrats returned ballots by Wednesday, compared to 24 percent of Republicans.
Pollsters, lawmakers and campaign consultants see it as a sign of intensity among Democrats who want to show their dissatisfaction with a polarizing president and a degree of distrust among Republicans in the postal vote, a method President Trump attacks without evidence as ripe for fraud. .
Republican leaders say they expect an influx of personal ballot delivery closer to election day.
“They are very suspicious of the mail,” said Sen. Joseph Penacchio, a Republican chairman of the New Jersey presidential re-election campaign, who advised voters to use boxes. “If you had a $ 100 bill, would you trust to put $ 100 in the mail?” Of course not.”
Yet, two years after the midterm midterm election in which Democrats turned four seats in the state congress, political analysts say the trend of sending mail may offer more problems for Republicans, who are already struggling to stay afloat. a more liberal state.
Before Representative Jeff Van Drew changed parties in December, there was only one Republican representing New Jersey in Congress: Chris Smith, who is in his 20th term. Mr Van Drew, a staunch opponent of the president’s impeachment, is now fighting for his political life against Amy Kennedy, a first-time candidate and former teacher who is married to President John F. Kennedy’s nephew.
A poll released this month showed Ms. Kennedy a five-point lead in the Conservative region, which the president won in 2016.
But it’s a race between State Senator Tom Keane Jr. and Representative Tom Malinowski – in a neighborhood that stretches north of New Jersey – that many observers are watching most closely.
In line with the 2020 Elections
Mr. Keane, a Republican, is the son of Thomas H. Keane, a respected former governor who led the investigation into the 9/11 terrorist attacks; Mr Malinowski is a freshman Democrat elected in 2018 as part of a so-called blue wave set against Mr Trump.
Given the recognition of Senator Keane’s name and family ties, the outcome of the race – assessed as “democratic” by Cook’s political report – is seen as something of a litmus test for centrist Republicans.
“Is Tom Malinowski making fun of Keane?” Asked Patrick Murray, director of the Institute for Research at the University of Monmouth.
“And does that mean that Tom Keane Sr.’s republican mark is dead?” he added.
County officials were required to send ballots to each registered voter in New Jersey no later than October 5th. In many parts of the state, staff members began issuing ballots in mid-September, allowing voters to submit their ballots more than a month before Election Day by mail or to the polling station or safe box.
Residents can also hand in paper ballots on November 3 to their polling station or polling station; people with disabilities may want to use voting machines.
As in other states, Trump’s campaign is suing New Jersey for trying to block mail voting and early ballot counting, which is expected to begin in just over a week.
Mr Pennacchio said the move to paper ballots was a political game of power by Democrats dressed as a pandemic-related need for security.
“There is no reason in the world for New Jersey not to be able to vote in person,” said Mr Pennacchio, who noted that people were still queuing up in shops and outside the offices of motor vehicles. This week, Democrat Gov. Philip D. Murphy also authorized full-contact winter sports such as basketball and wrestling in schools.
Mr Pennacchio, a Brooklyn-born dentist and one-time Democrat who now helps lead the Maurice County Republican Party, called Mr Trump a “boy with posters of traditional values” who did not lose sight of his constituents.
“He may butcher the king’s English from time to time and God knows he tweets too much, but he’s my back,” Mr Pennacchio said. “When he went to Washington, he took me with him.”
The leaking ballots offer only an early picture of voters’ reaction to New York’s broadest postal voting test, and the numbers change from day to day.
But the rate of return raised eyebrows among ordinary Republicans.
In Hunterden County, Republicans control the county government and outnumber Democrats by about 13,000 voters. But by the end of last week, 43% of registered Democrats had voted, compared to 25% of Republicans in a district located in Mr Malinowski’s district.
“It’s said to have real passion,” said Christine Todd Whitman, a Hunterden County Republican and the only woman elected governor of New Jersey.
Ms. Whitman is a vocal opponent of Mr. Trump and leader of the Republicans and Independents for Biden, a group that backed former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. for president.
If Mr Trump loses, Ms Whitman said, his supporters will be moved to the party’s wing and centrists can begin to recover. If he wins, the job will be harder, she said, but not impossible.
“We’re going to have to work hard to get it back, but that doesn’t mean it’s dead,” Ms. Whitman said of the party she, like her father and grandparents before her, once helped lead.
“We will not stop trying to give the American people a central party,” she added, “because most people are there.”
But support in New Jersey for a Republican party modeled after Mr. Trump is also clearly seen in the president’s embrace full of Republicans locked in close congressional rallies in swinging neighborhoods and in rampant rallies for the president.
A February-style campaign event featuring Mr. Trump in Wildwood, New Jersey, attracted thousands of ardent fans, many of whom endured low temperatures while waiting in line for two days. Over Labor Day weekend, supporters of the president gathered along the coast for a flotilla that participants estimated had towed 2,400 boats.
In a televised debate last week, Mr Van Drew carefully read Mr Trump’s views on issues including immigration, the police and the origins of the coronavirus, which, Mr Van Drew said, “probably comes from a laboratory – we don’t know whether it was even genetically mutated. “Scientists and US intelligence agencies agree that the virus is very likely to have evolved in nature.
David Richter, a Republican running for dismissal from Andy Kim – a Democratic congressman who won a narrow victory to replace the seat in 2018 – was disdainful of the president after being ousted from his candidacy in the Second Congressional District by Mr. Van Drew party switch. But now that he has rented an apartment in a neighboring neighborhood to challenge Mr. Kim, his fundraising website confesses that he “stands proudly with President Trump.”
New Jersey is one of only four states where the early ballot return rate is already more than 25 percent of its total turnout in 2016, according to the U.S. Election Project, an information center run by Michael MacDonald, a professor at the University of New York. Florida.
Jesse Burns, executive director of the non-partisan League of Voters in New Jersey, said he believed the increase in voting was directly linked to the pandemic.
Voters this year are animated not only by contests, she said, but also by elections to local school boards and county legislatures, which have become much more relevant to their daily lives as residents struggled to find virus testing sites. or be adapted to remote education.
“People realize that they make decisions about how their children will go to school,” Ms. Burns said.
John Frundjian, executive director of the William J. Center for Public Policy. Hughes at Stockton University pointed to the primary program in July, when even candidates who had no opponents garnered a record number of votes.
The votes for representative Donald Norcross, a Democrat who is running without opposition in the championship, were twice as many as two years ago, when he had two contenders. Mr Kim, who had no main opponent, received 79,423 votes, ahead of the combined 58,592 votes cast for Mr Richter and his opponent Kate Gibbs, who were vigorously vying for the Republican nomination.
“All these signs show a high level of enthusiasm,” said Professor Frunjian. “It’s as if they can’t wait to vote.”