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New Jersey Voter Registration-April 2017
Source: New Jersey Division of Elections
* New Jersey Democratic State Committee
* NJ Senate Democrats
* NJ Assembly Democrats
* New Jersey Republican State Committee
* NJ Senate Republicans
* NJ Assembly Republicans
-- Trends in party support
Following World War II, New Jersey was a Republican-leaning swing state in presidential elections. From the 1948 presidential election to the 1988 presidential election, Republican candidates won 9 out of 11 times; John F. Kennedy won New Jersey in 1960 by 22,000 votes, and Lyndon B. Johnson won New Jersey in 1964 as a part of his landslide victory. Although New Jersey had several highly populated Democrat-dominated urban areas like Camden, Newark, and Jersey City, the state's growth was highest in suburban municipalities near New York City and Philadelphia and along the Jersey Shore. Voters in suburban New Jersey were overwhelmingly white with higher incomes than those living in the older cities, and were more likely to vote Republican. Since the 1960s, the base of Republican support has come from counties like Somerset, Morris, Ocean, Monmouth, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Warren, Sussex, and Cape May. Democrats generally rely on their traditional majorities in such counties as Hudson, Essex, Passaic, Union, Mercer and Middlesex.
-- The income tax
Perhaps the most divisive political issue in the state's modern history was confronted in 1976 when the state enacted an income tax. Both Democratic Governor Richard Hughes and Republican Governor William Cahill had proposed income taxes, but had failed to secure passage in the legislature. After the election in 1973 of Democrat Brendan Byrne, the measure only was approved after the state Supreme Court had ordered public schools closed until the state substantially increased aid for urban school districts. Despite predictions that his advocacy of the tax would end his political career, Governor Byrne was able to win re-election, aided by the split of votes in the primary election among his several challengers and the failure of the Republicans to develop a persuasive alternative plan.
-- Urban-suburban conflicts
The battle over the income tax also reflected the growing political, economic and racial divide between the state's older cities--traditional Democratic bases--and its more Republican suburbs. The decline of the state's cities was most dramatically illustrated in the urban riots of the 1960s, with the 1967 riots in Newark attracting global attention as National Guard troops occupied the city. While school funding was the primary forum for the conflict, there would be continuing struggles over the allocation of resources in such areas as transportation, housing, health care and social services.
-- Republican internal divisions
The Republican Party in New Jersey continues to be divided between its more conservative wing, which often includes more activist members who represent relatively high proportions of voters in primary elections nominating party candidates, and more moderate voters who tend to have views supporting candidates more compatible with the state's independent voters and more conservative Democrats.
From 1943 to 1979, New Jersey was represented in the US Senate by a Democrat and a Republican. The national shift of the Republican Party toward more conservative policies, as illustrated by the nomination and election of Ronald Reagan in 1978, also divided Republicans within the state, which traditionally had preferred candidates with moderate or liberal positions. In the same year as Reagan's election, the divisions between the conservative and more moderate factions of the Republican Party led to the primary election defeat of veteran incumbent US Senator Clifford Case by Jeffrey Bell, a conservative protege of Ronald Reagan who was soundly defeated in the general election by Bill Bradley. In the 1990s, somewhat influenced by national trends, New Jersey politics also became more partisan, particularly after the Republicans took majority control of both houses of the Legislature in the 1991 election in the backlash to the tax program enacted by Governor Florio. In the 1993 gubernatorial election, Florio was defeated by Christine Todd Whitman, who late in her campaign proposed sharp tax cuts advocated by the national GOP, thus giving the Republicans control of the Governor's office as well as both houses of the legislature.
Nationally, however, New Jersey swung consistently Democratic. Beginning in 1992, when Bill Clinton won a plurality of New Jersey's popular vote in in the election in which Ross Perot ran as a third-party candidate dividing support for President George H.W. Bush's re-election, New Jersey has voted for the Democratic candidate in every presidential election. In 1996, President Clinton became the first Democrat in 32 years to win a majority of New Jersey's popular vote, and in the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections New Jersey has been considered so strongly Democratic that the national GOP has not seriously contested the state. .
In the 2001 gubernatorial election won by Democrat Jim McGreevey, Republican conservatives also were able to nominate Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler over Bob Franks, the moderate former congressman who had the support of most of the party's leaders. Schundler was easily defeated, however, in the general election. McGreevy's victory also saw the Democrats recapture majority control of the General Assembly for the first time in a decade and also secure a narrow 21-19 majority in the Senate. Democrats accordingly held control of the Governor's office and the Senate and Assembly from 2002 through the 2009 election, when Chris Christie defeated Democratic incumbent Governor Jon Corzine, establishing a partisan split during Christie's two terms as Democrats continued to maintain majorities in the legislature. As of April 2017, the state Senate had 24 Democrats and 16 Republicans; the General Assembly was comprised of 52 Democrats and 28 Republicans.
In addition to the internal divisions within the Republican Party, more recent demographic changes have also tended to skew toward Democrats as minorities, traditionally with higher percentages of Democratic voters, increase their share of the electorate. According to the US Census Bureau, from 2010 through 2013, New Jersey's Asian population rose the most--by 9.5%, to about 802,000; followed by multiracial residents (up 9.1% to 125,067) and Hispanics (up 8.3% to nearly 1.7 million). New Jersey's black population grew 1% to 1.1 million.
* Voting and Registration, US Census Bureau
* New Jersey Electorate Profile 2016 (age, race, education etc), US Census Bureau
* United States Election Project