And for the record, we’re digging deeper than “Christie can win over non-traditional groups for the GOP” regurgitations that you’re getting from everyone else…
(5) The National GOP leadership is quickly coalescing around Christie
Winning better than 60% of the vote in a state that Barack Obama nearly carried by 60% one year earlier is no small feat for a Republican. But we expected it. We also expected RNC Chairman Reince Priebus to embrace the Christie landslide with open arms.
What we didn’t quite expect was for him to say to the assembled Asbury Park crowd that “[Christie] has put together a textbook campaign for this country.” Politicos appreciate the subtle importance of a remark one step beyond usual surrogate flattery and rally filler; Priebus’s statement is closer to 2016 endorsement. Coupled with the presence of Governor Martinez on the trail, it’s readily apparent that many influential folks within the party infrastructure are hoping to avoid the type of primary in 2016 that ruined Mitt Romney’s brand in 2012. Rubio, Rand or whoever else will be fighting from the outside-in.
(4) Christie coasted but lacked legislative coattails
A 22-point victory is typically accompanied by down-ballot successes. While Republicans did do well in some local races, those results were sporadic and unfortunately an exception to the rule when it came to legislative successes. There were few.
Sam Fiocchi (R) unseated “Arrogant” Nelson Albano (D) in LD1. Things remain a little less certain in the battleground 38th legislative district. The top vote-getter in LD38 (Lagana with 24,838) and the low candidate (Fragala posting 24,538) were only separated by 300 votes with all 147 precincts reporting. Joe Scarpa (R) remains in second place by the narrowest of margins (less than 200 votes).
That’s likely two net Assembly seats and a big ‘ole goose egg on the Senate side of the ledger. We can’t blame it all on redistricting. I explored some of the factors on Election Day. Expect more exploration in the days ahead.
(3) Republican Infighting is Inevitable in the Weeks Ahead
If Christie is truly a “roadmap” for the national party, then his state party is certainly susceptible to the same soul searching and directional disputes. The Berkeley Hotel (across from the Asbury Park Convention Center) was buzzing with rumors of leadership challenges after last night’s lack of legislative electoral process. More on that later.
Something else I said on Election Day was that the NJ GOP would need to begin confronting a world without Chris Christie after Election Day, regardless of whether the Statehouse changed hands. We can’t simply sit back and wait another eight years for another map. It’s time for the bench to step up; 2014 will provide plenty of opportunities at the state and federal levels.
(2) Republican Can Win Anywhere
Like in Atlantic City, where an openly-gay, fiscally-conservative GOP mayoral challenger captured city hall despite a 12-to-1 Democrat registration advantage. You’re guaranteed to miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take, Save Jerseyans. May A.C. serve as a lesson to all.
(1) Don’t Doubt the Polls
Chris Christie ultimately won by approximately 22 points. Our final public polling average was 24-points and trending downward. I learned my lesson in 2012: modern polling is accurate. Scarily so.