Rutgers' Eagleton hosts panel to analyze election results
The Eagleton Institute of Politics hosted an expert panel at its “The Morning After: An Odd-Year Election” yesterday, where it analyzed the results of this past Tuesday’s election in New Jersey and across the country.
Yesterday’s election, while not tied to any national candidates, saw the Democrats in the New Jersey General Assembly lose a few seats, with a few more still too close to call.
The results are considered a surprise, said Colleen O’Dea, a reporter and editor-at-large at NJ Spotlight.
“Going into the election, it had seemed that the Democrats were in a really good position to have what usually doesn’t happen during the midterms, which is they pick up seats,” O’Dea said. “The Democrats seemed to have momentum from last year’s federal midterms. They seemed to have a lot of money.”
But the Democrats ultimately lost seats in the General Assembly in the Cape May and Burlington Counties, with a race in Atlantic City still to close to call, O’Dea said. The Democrats are still likely to maintain the majority in the Assembly, she said.
Although the race was not seen as a referendum on Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) going into election night, the results are now causing many people to wonder whether it was. In fact, some Democrats were running against Murphy’s agenda, as the party is currently divided between him and the President of the New Jersey Senate Stephen M. Sweeney (D-N.J.), said Bernard Kenny, a former New Jersey State senator.
“You had Democrats against the governor,” Kenny said. “And they’re running to (President Donald J.) Trump, in a matter of speaking. So this is an odd thing.”
Running against their own party may have caused consequences for the Democrats, Kenny said.
As of Wednesday night, the divide between Murphy and the legislature is still present, as Sweeney said to NJ Advance Media.
“Really? How do you spin that? It wasn’t a good day,” Sweeney said. "This is the first net loss in the Senate in a decade. You can spin it however you want. We lost.”
The panelists also weighed in on other election outcomes outside of New Jersey, such as the Democrats taking of the Virginia General Assembly and the Kentucky governor’s office.
The victory in Virginia was also a good political victory for women, said Diane Allen, a former New Jersey State Senator.
“There were a lot of Republican women who were putting a lot of money for Democratic women and others who were running in Virginia,” Allen said. “Because Virginia is kind of this last bastion, it is the last state to get the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) passed.”
With Tuesday’s results, the bill’s passage is more likely, she said.
Michael Hill, a correspondent for NJTV, said that there is great enthusiasm in politics, but, turning back to New Jersey, there is also a sense that voters feel they should “check” the current state political leaders.
“While there is this great enthusiasm,” Hill said. “I think that there is almost a natural sense of, let’s check this.”
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