Cory Booker won a U.S. Senate seat the way most Democrats in New Jersey have during the past decade — with convincing victories in the state’s strongest blue counties.
Former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan said he had come closer to winning than anyone had thought, but he still lost by more than 10 percentage points, according to incomplete results available as of midnight.
Booker’s margin of victory was far less than the 35-point lead polls gave him shortly after the primary, but not too different from what Sens. Bob Menendez and Frank Lautenberg, whom Booker is replacing, have polled during the past decade. The worst a Democrat has done was in 2000, when former Gov. Jon Corzine ran for Senate and won with 50.1 percent of the vote, compared with 47.1 percent for his GOP opponent, the late Robert Franks.
Booker won a dozen counties yesterday, with his highest margin an 85.4 percent majority in Hudson County. Lonegan won the other nine counties, getting his greatest majority in Sussex, where he polled 64.8 percent.
Lonegan won all six counties where registered Republicans outnumber Democrats. By contrast, Booker lost in three counties — Monmouth, Salem, and Somerset — with more registered Democrats. However, in most counties, the number of unaffiliated voters outnumbers both Democrats and Republicans and these voters can swing an election for the party with fewer registrants.
Booker won in all but two of the counties, Salem and Somerset, where Menendez was victorious last year, but in all the same counties that Menendez won six years earlier, in 2006, when the president was not atop the ticket. Menendez beat state Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R-Monmouth) with almost 59 percent of the vote when President Obama topped the ballot. Roughly 67 of registered voters cast ballots last year despite power outages, moved voting locations, and other factors caused by superstorm Sandy.
Unofficial results from the county clerks — including incomplete counts for Camden, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, and Union counties — show that almost 1.3 million New Jerseyans went to the polls, about 23 percent of all those registered. That was far lower than any recent general election, including those in which the state Legislature tops the ballot, which have the lowest turnouts. In 2007, when the state Senate was the highest office up for election, 32 percent of those registered voted. It was also much lower than the 35 percent to 40 percent of voters that the Monmouth University poll had estimated would turn out.
But Monmouth’s poll turned out to be closest in predicting the margin of victory. Released Monday, the poll gave Booker a 10-point lead. The unofficial, incomplete results put him 10.6 points over Lonegan.