Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray has a geographical analysis of the election results at InTheLobby.
Here's what Murray has to say about Monmouth and Ocean:
What the heck happened in Monmouth and Ocean? Let’s take it year by year. Christie Whitman won these two counties by 34,000 in 1993 and 58,000 in 1997. The region went Democrat in 2001, giving Jim McGreevey a slight 8,000 vote edge, before returning to form in 2005 with a 37,000 vote advantage for Doug Forrester.
So, how well did the Republican candidate do here this year? Try a 134,000 vote margin! Yes, you read that correctly. That represents a 36 point margin, when 25 would have been considered extraordinary.
How did it happen? A lot of Northern Shore residents came out to vote, that’s how. Turnout was at least 50.2%, about 5 points above the state average. In 2005, it was 50.1%, just 1.6 points above the state average. While turnout dropped 3 points across the state, it actually went up in Monmouth and Ocean! I’ve heard conflicting reports about whether there was any extra GOTV effort here.
But I do know one thing. Voters need to have a reason to get enthused enough to come out in large numbers, and nothing riles up a voter like anger against an incumbent. The source of that ire may be found in a New York Times interview Jon Corzine gave a week before the election. In that interview, he raised the possibility of revisiting his ill-fated toll plan from January 2008. That’s the plan that single-handedly caused his job approval rating to drop from a net +3 to a -15 in just two months. The plan that I kept wondering why Christie wasn’t hammering away at. Well, Corzine did his opponent a favor by reminding these Parkway-dependent commuters why they didn’t like him in the first place.
A look back at Monmouth/Gannett polling during the time of the toll plan debate points to a real possibility that the toll plan played more heavily in this region than any other. In March 2008, 53% of the state said they were paying a lot of attention to the toll plan, but interest was highest in the Northern Shore region at 73%. Statewide, 56% of New Jerseyans opposed the plan, while 15% who supported it and 28% who had no opinion. In Monmouth and Ocean counties, a whopping 73% opposed it compared to just 13% who favored it and only 14% who had no opinion. The region with the next highest level of opposition was the Route 1 Corridor at 62%.
It’s also worth noting that when Governor Corzine went on his town hall tour to promote the plan, he probably received his worst receptions in Marlboro and Toms River. Coincidentally, Congressman Frank Pallone probably had the angriest crowd of any in the state during the health care reform town halls last summer. That was in Monmouth County. The state’s angriest voters seem to live along the Northern Shore. And I always thought ocean breezes were supposed to be soothing. At any rate, it would be fair to say that the toll hike plan was a real sore spot with Northern Shore voters.
There was a huge GOTV effort on the Northern Shore. Many MMM readers were part of it. Thank you to all who kept pushing themselves to make another phone call.
I don't know who to thank from Ocean.
In Monmouth, Christine Hanlon and John Raue did a fabulous job recruiting and inspiring an army of volunteers throughout the campaign. Give Christine and John a big THANK YOU when you see them.