TNR Super Tuesday Primer

Sandwiched between New York City and Philadelphia, and lacking a statewide television news source, the Garden State is usually ignored by party candidates who would rather spend their time and money in the surrounding larger markets. But as a blue state run by a slick and powerful Democratic machine, New Jersey embodies both the strength and organization of the Clinton campaign and the challenge for Obama in states where he is running an insurgent campaign. On the Republican side, New Jersey--along with neighboring New York--will most likely go to McCain, who was out-polling Giuliani even before the former mayor withdrew from the race.

Delegates: Democrats: 127 (70 direct election, 57 superdelegates); Republicans: 52 (winner takes all).

Democratic Fundraising: Clinton: $3,481,542; Obama: $1,808,950.

Republican Fundraising: McCain: $1,203,031; Romney: $447,286; Paul: $129,199; Huckabee: $7,700.

Polls*: New Jersey--so closely tied to New York--is considered Clinton’s home turf. Polls released by Monmouth/Gannett (1/13), Fox TV/Rasmussen (1/15), and Quinnipiac (1/22) all give Clinton a double-digit lead over Obama. The proportional representation system ultimately means that this is not a zero-sum election for the two remaining candidates, and a rise in Obama’s popularity could result in quite a number of the 127 delegates going his way.

The same polls gave McCain a slight lead over Rudy Giuliani, with Romney and Huckabee well behind the two. It is expected that a majority of Giuliani supporters--who tend to represent the moderate wing of the party--will shift their votes to the Arizona senator, all but securing 52 delegates for McCain on Super Tuesday.

*Polls updated below

Demographics: According to the Quinnipiac numbers, Clinton has more support than Obama among women (54-28), men (44-36), and whites (54-23). Obama has an enormous lead over the former First Lady among black voters (62-27), who make up just over 15 percent of the state population.

Endorsements: Tom Moran, a political columnist for the Newark Star-Ledger, emphasizes that the New Jersey Democratic establishment controls a "powerful machine" with an amazing capacity to "get out the vote." Clinton can boast the support of much of this establishment, having secured the endorsement of Governor Jon Corzine, Senator Robert Menendez, and the vast majority of county chairs. PolitickerNJ.com’s Max Pizarro notes that Menendez will help Clinton secure the support of the Latino community, which makes up over 15 percent of New Jersey’s population, and is slightly larger than the state's black population. Moran adds that Clinton has “worked the soil” in New Jersey for years, helping out with local campaigns and fund-raising. She has amassed “a truckload of IOUs” that she is cashing in now. Of those superdelegates that have openly endorsed a candidate, 12 are backing Clinton, while only 1 is supporting Obama. Obama has picked up some important endorsements, too, most notably former Senator Bill Bradley, Congressman Steven Rothman, Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy, and Newark Mayor Cory Booker (the latter is an influential black leader who seen as important in helping Obama earn the African American vote). Popular former governor Dick Codey--previously an Edwards backer--is also about to announce his support for Obama. Update 2/3: The Newark Star-Ledger, the largest-circulation paper in the state, endorsed Barack Obama.

McCain seems to have inherited almost all of the New Jersey GOP establishment’s support, which at one time was backing Giuliani.

Analysis: Clinton is all but a lock. Even if the national trends move in Obama’s direction, Clinton’s lead appears insurmountable, and the Democratic establishment is unlikely to budge in its support for the neighboring senator. On the GOP side, the newly-instituted winner-take-all primary was driven by two Giuliani-supporting county chairs, with the logic being that Giuliani, as front runner, would take all delegates without having to spend time and money in the state. It now appears that Giuliani has left McCain with a wonderful parting gift.

UPDATE: Having written above that “Clinton is all but a lock,” recent polls suggest that I may be eating crow Wednesday morning. Reuters/Zogby (2/3) now has the race at a tie, with Clinton and Obama at 43 percent a piece. Quinnipiac (2/3) still has Clinton up, but her lead shrinking to only 5 percent, while SurveyUSA (2/3) has the New York senator with a double digit lead--11 percent over Obama. If the New Jersey Democratic primary is getting murkier, its Republican counter part is becoming increasingly clear. Reuters/Zogby (2/3) Quinnipiac, (2/3), and SurveyUSA (2/3) all have McCain with a 20-plus point lead over Romney.

 

Get a rundown of other states at play at TNR's Super Tuesday Primer, updated with new states every day leading up to February 5.

By Adam Blinick