Fairleigh Dickinson University recently welcomed the state party chairmen for an “Election Autopsy” on the recent New Jersey State gubernatorial race, which resulted in an outcome that shocked voters throughout the state and nation.
Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, the Democratic Party chair, and Assemblyman Jay Webber, the Republican Party chair, were both very open to the various questions that the audience, which was a mix of Fairleigh Dickinson’s student body, faculty, and staff, had in store.
Current New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine’s failed attempt at re-election left the Democrats empty handed as the position of governor was handed over to former U.S. attorney, Chris Christie. The Democrats’ loss not only questioned whether they deserted their nominee, but also whether the New Jersey voter had abandoned President Barack Obama.
The Democrats, according to Cryan, had difficulties moving forward between regional and ideological differences among the party. These differences created a weak campaign but “didn’t cost the election.” Cryan explained that the re-election was lost not because of a desertion, but because the Republicans simply ran a better campaign.
“They beat us… that’s it,” said Cryan.
Webber also felt that the Republicans ran a well-organized campaign that appealed to New Jersey voters. He credited the victory on having a good nominee.
“The flip-side of that coin is that we had a strong ticket,” he said, referring to Christie.
Republicans were able to stay on the “right side of the issues,” said Webber. He reminded the audience that this election resulted in the “second largest Republican victory in a long time.”
The New Jersey voter, according to Cryan, has changed in recent years. He explained that the state is currently in a “conservative awakening,” which affected the Democratic campaign strongly and negatively.
“We were talking about pre-school; they were talking about property taxes,” he said. “We knew about the problems; we didn’t wake up on the wrong side of the bed every day.” The Democrats simply took a different approach towards those problems.
This change also questioned the New Jersey voter’s support of current Obama, a Democrat who won with a sweeping victory. But his popularity did little to nothing in terms of helping Corzine win re-election.
Obama had campaigned alongside Corzine on a few occasions, one of which was a rally held at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Metropolitan campus in Teaneck. The Democrats hoped that this sold-out event would better the chances for Corzine in Bergen County.
Surprisingly, Obama’s support for Corzine did not change the minds of New Jersey voters and the governor’s seat was still handed over to Republicans.
When Cryan was asked if he felt this election reflected what will happen in the 2012 presidential election, he without hesitation answered, “NO.”
Both Webber and Cryan agreed that this gubernatorial election was more a referendum on Corzine than a referendum on Obama, even though Obama couldn’t change the minds of the voters.
The Republicans held a campaign that would have been a “winning formula for any candidate,” said Webber.
The event was organized by Politics on the PublicMind, which is directed by Peter Woolley, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University. The event took place at the Orangerie, located in the school’s library.