Tuesday’s victory for New Jersey Governor-Elect Chris Christie was never in doubt according to Christie’s pollster Adam Geller. Despite some last minute Republican skittishness over public polls showing a late surge in favor of the Democratic incumbent, Geller says the campaign’s internal polls had the Republican winning even in the best-case turnout scenario for Democrats.
“I said all along that even if Corzine’s turnout was what Democrats were hoping for, Chris still wins by a point,” Geller tells Politics. “And if turnout ended up being what I was predicting all along, we would win by 4 or 5, and that’s exactly what happened.”
The key for Christie, says Geller, was over-performing in counties like Middlesex and Gloucester and running up large margins in counties like Ocean and Monmouth—Christie won both counties with well over 60 percent of the vote.
Christie also lost Bergen County, which conventional wisdom says is a must-win for any Republican statewide candidate. The Philadelphia Inquirer laid out that case last week…
Corzine won Bergen County Tuesday by some 5,700 votes. The saving grace for Christie appears to be that he didn’t need a win in Bergen given Corzine’s margins in Essex and Hudson. In Essex County, Corzine fell more than 19,000 votes short of his vote total there in 2005. In Hudson County, he fell more than 11,000 votes short of his 2005 total. And in both counties, Christie also performed better than 2005 GOP nominee Doug Forrester.
Carl Golden, who worked for both recently successful Republican governors, Thomas H. Kean and Christie Whitman, said, "Republicans have to win it [Bergen] to offset the kinds of pluralities Democrats roll up in places like Hudson and Essex Counties, and throw Camden in on top of it." The county's GOP chairman, Robert Yudin, said flatly, "Christie can't win unless he takes Bergen."
“The new math says a Republican can win statewide in New Jersey and not win Bergen County,” says Geller. “That’s a big deal.”
Shane D’Aprile is senior editor at Politics magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.