Telltale Coattails

Republicans in Kenilworth won by a landslide. Was it a vote against the democrats in Kenilworth or Murphy as governor?

Looking at the Union County website with detail for 2021 on votes by district for both governor and council tells a tale.

The democrats running for council actually did better than Murphy did in Kenilworth so the question is whether it was Murphy who the voters in Kenilworth were voting against or did people vote against the democrats in Kenilworth and that pulled Murphy down.

Let’s look at a chart from the 2017 election when Murphy, being an unknown, was more popular.

Murphy beat Guadagno in 2017 with republicans running for council getting about the same number of votes as Guadagno but democrats, though they won, not getting as many as Murphy. Since roughly the same crew runs each year in Kenilworth the difference between 2017 and 2021 looks like it is all about Murphy and his opponent.

The place to look next is what happened in the county commissioner/freeholder outcomes where democrats win countywide each year because of massive pluralities in Elizabeth and Plainfield but very few people have a clue as to what the commissioners do or how well they do it. Here are those breakdowns for 2021 which mirror the results for both governor and council:

In 2017 democrats won both the governor and council lines. Here is how the freeholder race went:

It looks like about 60 voters switched away from the freeholders while another 150 voted democrat for council but not on the county level. For 2021 those voters had no trouble staying with republicans along the line.

What does this mean for 2022 in Kenilworth when there will be no governor or president heading the ticket? Let’s look at 2018:

At this point all we can say for sure is that there are about 200 voters in Kenilworth who can’t bring themselves to vote for the democrat commissioners even though they would vote for democrats on council. However, even though there was no governor or president heading the ticket in 2018 it was a mid-term election with a definite anti-Trump-Republican feel.

So what do I expect in Kenilworth in 2022? Probably another democrat victory for the two council seats. Not because of who may be running here but because Murphy will still be governor and Biden will still be president and it does not look like either will be getting any more popular.

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