Is NJ in for a Decade of Non-Competitive Elections? [AUDIO]
Redistricting in done every ten years after U.S. Census numbers are tallied and population shifts are determined. This year, New Jersey lost one congressional seat as a result of redistricting and that’s the reason there was one competitive primary yesterday. Redistricting protected incumbents which leads one political pundit to predict that the lack of competition will likely last for the next decade.
“Redistricting just made Democratic districts more Democratic and Republican districts more Republican,” says Monmouth University poll director Patrick Murray.
Murray thinks the lack of competition is a bad thing. He explains, “When we’re stuck with who we’re stuck with and people are frustrated and feel that their voice doesn’t matter then they start losing trust in the institution as a whole……..More competitive districts and a sense that anything could happen is probably much more beneficial to our faith in democracy than anything else.”
Redistricting put incumbent Democratic U.S. Representative Steve Rothman in a new district where he would have faced conservative GOP Congressman Scott Garrett. Rather than face that uphill battle, Rothman decided to move into District 9 which led him to wage a bitter battle against another Democratic incumbent, Congressman Bill Pascrell. That was one of the two primaries to watch.
The death of incumbent Congressman Donald Payne in District 10 resulted in the only other primary race to capture the attention of those who run in political circles.
Murray says when the final voter turnout numbers are tallied it’s probable that only about 400,000 voters actually bothered to cast a ballot despite the fact that there are roughly 5 million New Jerseyans who are registered to vote.
According to Murray, the question isn’t, “How come only 400,000 people bothered to vote?” He says the real question is; “Why did anyone bother to vote at all?????They just kind of did it out of habit more than anything else. There really isn’t a good reason for people to come out and vote.”
Murray thinks there will be even less competitive races in the November General Election than there was in yesterday’s primaries.