Democrats billed the 2019 elections as a referendum on President Trump. Republicans dubbed the off-year contests as the “Murphy Mid-Term” and a chance to stall Democratic attempts to build on the “blue wave” of 2018. Who was right? It looks like both sides can declare victory.
With the 80 seats of New Jersey General Assembly up for election, along with a Special Election for the Senate seat in the First Legislative District (Cumberland, Cape May and Atlantic Counties), the election returns produced mostly a status quo result. Democrats will continue to control both the General Assembly and State Senate, but with majorities slightly smaller than in the past session. All three Democratic incumbents in the First Legislative District lost to their respective Republican challengers. The race for the two Assembly seats in the Second Legislative District was extremely close, but it appears the Democratic incumbents will be victorious. Even with the loss in the First Legislative District, Democrats still retain a wide majority in the Assembly (52-28) and the Senate (25-15).
Republican incumbents were able to hang onto victory in District 8 (Burlington County), District 21 (Morris, Somerset, and Union Counties), and District 25 (Morris and Somerset), where Democrats ran particularly hard in all three districts. Democrats did show strength at the local and county level, winning the Mayor’s race in New Jersey’s ninth largest town (Hamilton Township), and gaining control of the Somerset County Freeholder Board and the Somerset County Sheriff, a county which was traditionally a Republican stronghold.
Nationally, Democrats made further inroads in states that also had off-year elections. Democrats won majorities in both houses of the Virginia Legislature, and have also declared victory in the Kentucky Governor’s race. Republicans won the Governor’s race in Mississippi, maintaining control in that state.
In all, New Jersey Republicans will point to their legislative gains as momentum going into the presidential election in 2020 and Governor’s race in 2021. Democrats can identify their retention of the legislative majority and wins at the local and national level that the party is well-positioned in the upcoming elections.