Observers say N.J. presidential election impact most likely financial, as state usually votes D
Published: Thursday, June 7, 2012
Updated: Thursday, June 7, 2012 10:06
TRENTON, N.J. _ It's unlikely that President Barack Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney will see New Jersey as a competitive state this year _ Democrats have won presidential elections here for decades.
Even with Gov. Chris Christie traveling the country raising funds for Romney, political analysts say Republicans have no chance of winning the Garden State.
But New Jersey, which donated $32.4 million to presidential candidates in 2008, will play a role in helping raise funds for both parties. And voters will see a massive amount of advertising from neighboring states, particularly Pennsylvania, where Romney has poured money into media campaigns hoping to sway the state that supported Obama in 2008.
The presidential election comes down to a separation between national and local politics, Rutgers University political science Professor Ross Baker said.
Baker said New Jersey is a lot like Wisconsin, where Republican Gov. Scott Walker faced a recall Tuesday, in that both states support Democrats at the presidential level, but voters are "all over the place" at the state level.
"In Wisconsin, there are people who will support Obama in November and are supporting Scott Walker today," Baker said Tuesday. "Likewise, I think there are people that credit Chris Christie with taking on the public employees and so on, but at the same time are not necessarily heeding his endorsement for president."
Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said years of data show that endorsements don't really affect elections.
"Chris Christie is the governor, a popular governor of New Jersey, but Mitt Romney is not running to be part of Chris Christie's team in New Jersey, he is running for president and voters differentiate those things," he said.
An April Quinnipiac Poll shows Obama topping Romney and a May poll found that even if Christie were to run on the ticket as vice president, it wouldn't change the outcome. The May poll _ which also opined that Christie would be unhappy as vice president _ had the Democrats winning 50 percent to 42 percent.
Murray said one thing Christie can do is help bring media attention to a campaign and, while that's not as necessary at the presidential level, the governor could help boost state Sen. Joseph Kyrillos, R-Monmouth, who is running against U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat.
"He's not going to change voters' minds but what he's going to do is maybe put that candidate in front of the voters a little bit more than that candidate would have been," Murray said.
Doug Mayer, a spokesman for the New Jersey Republican State Committee, said Christie would continue to aggressively campaign for Romney as he has for the past eight months.
"I think in 2009 and for the past two years, Governor Christie has proven that New Jersey voters are more than ready for the time of common sense solutions that will turn this country around and Mitt Romney has the experience, character, ability and the message to do the same," Mayer said.
And Christie can help raise money. Last month he appeared alongside Romney at a New York City event that brought in $5 million for the campaign.
In 2008, Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona held an event at the Teaneck Marriott at Glenpointe, N.J., that drew 400 people who paid between $1,000 and $25,000 to attend. McCain's campaign raised nearly $4.76 million from New Jersey supporters.
Obama raised $22.6 million and that was after the Garden State sent $14 million to his primary challenger Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Michael Kempner, president and CEO of the MWW Group in East Rutherford, N.J., hosted Obama in 2009 for a $30,400-a-person fundraiser at his Cresskill home that brought in a reported $1 million for the Obama Victory Fund. Last year he hosted Vice President Joseph Biden at a $10,000-per-couple fundraiser at his home. Kempner also personally donated $50,000 to get VIP access to Obama's inauguration and raised between $100,000 and $200,000 for Obama's 2008 campaign.
"New Jersey is always one of the pots of gold at the end of the rainbow for candidates from both parties," Murray said. "While they will spend very little time, if any, campaigning here because they will write this off as 14 electoral votes for Obama, they will spend a lot of time here in banquet halls and people's living rooms raising money."
Baker called it the "Manhattan halo effect."
"You think about why is New Jersey a big money place, it's a big money place because there are Wall Street back officers here, there are Wall Street people who live in Montclair or Alpine or someplace like that," he said.