Column: There's an Election Coming. Really

Polls focus on November as most give challengers in the few primary contests little chance of victory.

Last week brought a number of polls affirming the fickle nature of New Jersey’s electorate and a reminder, despite any lack of enthusiasm, that there is an election in less than a month.

Our votes don’t count again this year in presidential balloting as the primary was moved back to June—holding a separate president-only primary in February 2008 cost the state an extra $12 million. Most people don’t seem to care. It’s impossible to imagine anyone but Mitt Romney would have won the Republican primary here, anyway.

With everyone else out of the GOP primary, looked ahead to November. It found New Jerseyans giving President Obama a 50 percent approval rating and a 14-point lead over Romney. That’s not far off from findings of mid-April Monmouth University and Quinnipiac University polls.

What’s perhaps most interesting about this is that the Democratic president’s positives are just 1 point lower than the . Fickle, yes, but New Jerseyans are traditionally independent voters, ignoring tickets and coattails.

While there is a contest in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat, none of the Jersey pollsters have asked for opinions on that race. And the election is just three weeks away. The FDU poll was the latest to put incumbent U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, the Democrat, against N.J. Sen. Joseph Kyrillos, R-Monmouth. And its results echoed three earlier polls in finding Menendez beats Kyrillos, and who is Kyrillos anyway?

It’s a different election scene than four years ago. In April 2008, FDU had already hosted a senatorial debate among the three Republican candidates, including N.J. Sen. Joe Pennacchio, R-Morris.

Opposing Kyrillos this year are: Bader G. Qarmout, a North Jersey tea partier; Joe “Rudy” Rullo, a South Jersey tea partier; and David Douglas Brown, whose nominating petition for the 2009 gubernatorial primary was invalidated.

No pundit gives anyone even a remote chance at beating Kyrillos, a close Christie ally. Still, this is a democracy and there ought to be at least some forums for people to be able hear all the candidates’ views on the issues to help make an informed decision.

The 11th District, which covers most of Morris County as well as Hopatcong under the redistricting plan adopted last December, offers no contest. That virtually assures re-election for Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, the Harding Republican, even though he will have a Democratic opponent in November, as the district continues to lean heavily toward the GOP.

There is, at least, a choice in the 7th, which now includes Washington Township, the Chesters and other Morris municipalities up to Mount Arlington. David Larsen is running as an ultraconservative alternative to Rep. Leonard Lance, a Republican who has moved rightward since joining Congress.

Still, pollsters and political observers say the new map makes it unlikely any incumbents will lose, except in the nearby 9th, where two Democratic congressmen–Bill Pascrell and Steve Rothman–are battling it out. The GOP map put Rothman into the 5th, with Republican Rep. Scott Garrett, and rather than fight that losing battle, Rothman decided to move into the new 9th to challenge Pascrell.

The state is losing one of its congressmen (and yes, men is the word to use) because the population did not grow as fast in New Jersey as it did in other states in the South and West.

While this may not be the most exciting of primary years, determining who represents you and New Jersey in Washington is important. There are three weeks left until the primary, so if you have a choice, find out whatever you can about the candidates and make it an informed one. 

Colleen O'Dea is a writer, editor, researcher, data analyst, web page designer and mapper with almost three decades in the news business. Her column appears Mondays.

This column appears on Patch sites serving communities in Morris, Somerset and Sussex counties. Comments below may be by readers of any of those sites.

Maxim Sapozhnikov May 14, 2012 at 11:49 AM
New Jersey is relative unaffected by the crisis ravaging the country (thank you, Chris Christie) so distractions like gay marriage or contraceptives still work for the Dog Eater in Chief. Between "Jersey Shore" and lapdog media treatment of Obama, New Jersey voters won't see the root of the problem until their welfare checks stop coming. And then, people who live within walking distance of Newark, Trenton, and Camden will envy the dead.
John F Hoover May 14, 2012 at 02:23 PM
Hoover: Citizen Input Starts With Voting at the Primary on June 5 Over the past few months, we have seen an amazing exhibition and expression of the First Amendment guaranteed right of free speech. The any commentaries and critiques of the Madison Borough process of government were boisterous, emphatic, and emotional. The involvement of the citizens of Madison is crucial to the long term viability and betterment of the quality of life in Madison and the services offered by the governing body. That involvement in our local government begins on June 5. We ALL must go to the polls to vote or mail in our vote. I would argue that voting is the foundation, the basis, for earning the privilege to comment on what needs to be done going forward. For me, it would be very difficult to be a critic of what the elected officials do or don’t do, IF I have not cast my vote to elect them. Do you know that of the approximately 9,000 registered voters in Madison, only a paltry total 400 voted regularly in the last four primaries combined!!! I urge all Madison registered voters to please vote on June 5!!! John F. Hoover – Republican Write-in Candidate for Borough Council
Karin Swenson Szotak May 14, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Hey John, I certainly can believe that only 400 Madisonians would vote, bc there really wasn't a choice. The candidates have always been determined by the time the primary reached our state. But this year, at least for GOP, there is a race for council. And I have to admit, I like watching a race, and will actually find write in campaign very interesting. I've seen a few articles from Mr. Links and the DEMs, but as a registered GOP, I'd like to see a few from both you and Mr. Pico. Good Luck and looking forward to hearing the views from all perspectives.
VietNam Vet May 14, 2012 at 09:45 PM
The only reason that Odumbo gets a 50% rating is because they are dumb enough to believe the hype that has been thrown around, beside those voters are made up of very naive women. I wouldn't vote for that moronic muslim pig maniac if he PAID me to. I can't be bought off like Preacher Wright with $ 50,000 to shut my mouth until after the elections. He is and IDIOT and has to go. If half of NJ thinks he is doing such a good job, that just shows the mentality of that half of the people. Thats why we're in the shape we are today.
Nancy Akgun May 14, 2012 at 10:14 PM
No! I moved to Florida and am very happy that i did.


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