Published November 3, 2021
If the Republican sweep in Virginia wasn’t enough to terrify Democrats, New Jersey’s results should definitely do the trick. The state’s shockingly close gubernatorial race is evidence that Americans of all stripes have turned on the Biden-led Democrats and, contrary to what so many on the left claim, don’t believe the GOP is morally unfit to govern.
New Jersey should have been a safe Democratic port even in a Republican storm. Incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy (D) won the Garden State by 14 points in 2017 and Biden carried it by 16. According to the 2020 Census, barely half of New Jersey residents are White. A multi-racial, Northeastern state, according to common wisdom, should have been immune to the temptation to vote Republican.
Yet that’s exactly what happened. While votes are still being counted, Republican Jack Ciattarelli is essentially tied with Murphy. Ciattarelli gained in every county, usually by 10 points or more on margin. The movement was especially strong in Southern Jersey. Murphy carried three counties — Gloucester, Cumberland, and Atlantic — by an average of 13 points in 2017. He lost those counties last night by an average of 11 points. That’s not a defeat; that’s a repudiation.
Henry Olsen is a Washington Post columnist and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.