Joe Biden could join an exclusive club in N.J. presidential election history

Posted Nov 04, 2020

Only six U.S. presidential candidates in history have ever captured 60% or more of the vote in New Jersey.

Joe Biden could become the seventh.

The Democratic challenger was swiftly declared the winner Tuesday night over President Donald Trump in the increasingly blue Garden State, with the Associated Press making the projection only moments after the polls had closed here.

The AP has yet to declare an overall winner in the national race, with several states still too close to call as of Wednesday afternoon.

With 64% of the vote in New Jersey counted as of 6 p.m., Biden was leading with 60.7% of the vote in New Jersey, compared to 38.2% for Trump.

Of course, those numbers could change as the rest of the mail-in and provisional ballots in the state are counted.

But if the percentages hold, Biden would join six other presidential contenders to crack 60% in New Jersey. That’s according to numbers that date back to 1824 (there are no percentages for the first nine races for the White House):

  • Ronald Reagan, 60.09% in 1984.
  • Richard Nixon, 61.57% in 1972
  • Lyndon B. Johnson, 65.61% in 1964
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower, 64.68% in 1956
  • Calvin Coolidge, 62.17% 1924
  • Warren G. Harding, 67.65% in 1920

(No, we don’t have any deep insight into what made Warren G. Harding the most popular presidential candidate New Jersey has ever seen.)

Biden would be only the second Democrat to reach 60%, after Johnson.

By comparison, Hillary Clinton won New Jersey with 55% of the vote in 2016, while Barack Obama drew 58% in 2012 and 57% in 2008; John Kerry 52% in 2004; Al Gore 56% in 2000; and Bill Clinton 53% in 1996 and 42% in 1992.

Political experts say they’re not surprised by Biden’s showing in New Jersey, noting the state has become increasingly more Democratic in recent years and public opinion polls have shown Trump is very unpopular here.

Ben Dworkin, director of Rowan University’s Institute for Public Policy and Citizenship, noted that many South Jerseyans are very familiar with Biden from his time not just as vice president but as a U.S. senator from neighboring Delaware.

“The entire southern half of the state has seen him advertising on Philadelphia TV for decades,” Dworkin said. “He’s not a new commodity.”

“But when you’re talking about going north of 60%, it’s because people really don’t like Donald Trump,” he added.

Carl Golden, a former press secretary for Republican former Govs. Tom Kean and Christie Whitman, agreed about Trump.

“That antipathy toward him resonated down the ticket,” Golden said. “And New Jersey is about as blue as it’s ever gonna get. It’s become one of the most reliably Democratic states in the country.”

Indeed, New Jersey was once a swing state, drawing presidential contenders every four years.

A Republican presidential contender has not carried the state since George H.W. Bush in 1988. And registered Democrats now outnumber registered Republicans by more than 1 million here. It’s no surprise neither Trump or Biden spent much time campaigning in the state.

While Trump won nine of New Jersey’s 21 counties in 2016, he leads only five (Cape May, Ocean, Salem, Sussex, and Warren). Biden is leading the other four (Gloucester, Hunterdon, Monmouth, and Morris).

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published this page in News and Politics 2020-11-05 02:34:32 -0800