There was no real path to Jack Ciattarelli winning the 2021 New Jersey governor’s race without flipping Middlesex County, a mostly-suburban, heavily blue-collar Democratic stronghold in Central Jersey that Republican Chris Christie won by 4,774 votes when he ousted Gov. Jon Corzine twelve years ago.
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy received 116,352 votes in Middlesex County, a 15.4% increase over his 2017 raw vote total and a 1.5% decease from the percentage of his margin against Kim Guadagno. Murphy won by 26,055 votes, 55.7% to 43.3%.
That is one of the keys to the recent election: while Murphy won by 11 points less than he did four years ago, Ciattarelli wasn’t able to flip any of the big anchor towns that Christie won in 2009.
Christie carried Edison by 1,546 against Corzine, but Murphy won it by 4,800 votes. With a hotly-contested mayoral race, turnout was up 14.7% in Edison this year. In 2017, Murphy carried Edison by 4,071.
Murphy won Woodbridge by 1,218 votes against Ciattarelli; he had won it by 3,238 votes four years ago and Christie carried the township by 1,958 votes in 2009. Voters returned to the Democratic column and State Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Woodbridge) carried his hometown by 4,680 votes.
East Brunswick went for Murphy by 1,319 votes, about the same as his 1,395-vote margin four years ago. In 2009, Christie beat Corzine there by 2,006 votes. In the 2017 election, East Brunswick produced 12,010 votes; this year, the total vote was 15,678 – a 30% increase.
Murphy beat Ciattarelli in Monroe, one of the few large suburban towns in New Jersey that has been trending from blue to red over the last few years. Monroe gave the governor an 868-vote win, down from 3,011 in 2017, but Christie had carried the 507. Democrats won a competitive mayoral race there by ten points.
Highland Park gave Murphy a massive 2,451-vote, 77.6% win – up from 2,040 votes and 68.9% in the last election.
Murphy picked up votes in Piscataway, where his 5,323-vote win (69.7%) was 736 votes more than his 2017 showing.