On Tuesday, Nov. 7, voters from 12 states went to the polls for the midterm general elections, 2023. In New Jersey, one of the 12 states whose voters cast their ballot, state legislative races dominated discussions.
Among the highly contested legislative races were those in districts 3, 4, 11 and 16 and each of the four races approached or broke records for the amount of money spent during a campaign.
Democrats took the lead several weeks ago with more of them voting early. But in the closing days leading up to Tuesday, Republicans turned up the heat, hoping to wrestle control of the State House away from Democrats.
Voters who either voted early, mailed in their ballots, or voted on Nov. 7, weighed in on such hot topics as abortion rights, offshore wind, parental rights and affordability – issues which may have driven people to the polls or cast their ballot.
More than 530,000 New Jersey voters had already cast ballots via mail-in or early in-person voting as the evening before the general election.
Even with New Jersey Governor Murphy in his second and final term in office, voter turnout was predictably low, expected to total around 27% – similar to the percentage in 2019 when the most important issue was whether Democrats or Republicans would succeed as the majority in the State Legislature.
It should be noted that the election for New Jersey governor will be in 2025.
Among the issues that exit polls reflected were at the top of the list for voters, particularly without the U.S. president or state governor on the ballot, were teachers keeping their opinions to themselves and out of the classroom and the broad spectrum of women’s health issues.
Every seat in the New Jersey Legislature was available for the taking. However, as the early results came in, it appeared that there would be no change in the decisive Democratic majorities held by both chambers. Prior to the general election, Democrats had a 25-15 advantage in the state Senate and a 46-34 lead in the General Assembly. But as noted earlier, there were two contests of note that could easily swing either way in Legislative Districts 3 and 4 – both in southern New Jersey.
In District 3, the GOP won the Senate seat and both Assembly seats by narrow margins in 2021 –a district which includes parts of Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties in the southwest. This year, all eyes were on state Sen. Edward Durr, a Republican, who ran for reelection against Democrat John Burzichelli.
This year, District 4, which includes parts of Atlantic, Camden and Gloucester counties, captured the voters’ attention with open-seat races for both the Senate and Assembly.
Democrat Paul Moriarty, Republican Christopher Del Borrello and third-party nominee Giuseppe Costanzo cast their hat in the Senate race while candidates for Assembly included Democrats Dan Hutchison and Cody Miller, Republicans Matthew Walker and Amanda Esposito and third-party hopeful Maureen Dukes Penrose.
According to the Associated Press, about 10% of the total votes cast were tabulated after Election Day in the last two general elections. However, this year the final results could be slightly delayed in the more competitive races.
Mailed ballots reflect the majority of late-counted votes which may arrive as late as Nov. 13 as long as they’re postmarked by Election Day.
As in the past, the AP may declare a winner in a race that is headed for a recount if it can determine the lead is too large for a recount or legal challenge to change the outcome.
There are about 6.5 million voters registered in New Jersey: 39% Democrats, 24% Republicans and 36% not affiliated with any party. In both the 2021 and 2022 general elections, 30% of all votes were cast before Election Day.
The 12 states who went to the polls for the 2023 general election included: Colorado, Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas and Virginia.
In Ohio, voters chose in favor of amending the state constitution to enshrine abortion and other reproductive rights. Ohio was the only state directly voting on abortion access this election cycle. The majority of voters clearly disagreed with the state’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, who was highly vocal in his opposition to the amendment.
In Kentucky, voters reelected Democratic Governor Andy Beshear, according to the Associated Press. Beshear defeated Republican state Attorney General Daniel Cameron, holding on to his seat as issues from culture wars to the economy and abortion dominated the race in the deeply red state.
And while the winners of some races, either in New Jersey or in the other 11 states, may remain undeclared by Wednesday night, many Americans will inevitably shift their focus to the third GOP presidential debate, slated to take place in Miami on Nov. 8.
Only five Republican contenders will take the stage at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County: former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina.
Once again, former President Donald Trump will not appear on the debate stage, choosing instead to hold a rally in Hialeah, Florida – a 30-minute drive from downtown Miami.