How come Republicans do better there than here? That’s a frequently asked question… and is just as frequently noted.
New Jersey Republicans have lost Republican legislators throughout the Christie years. Whether we hold the Governor’s office or not, we lose. Why?
Could it have something to do with our message and who it’s aimed at?
As a comparison, let’s look at neighboring Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania went blue before New Jersey did… but went red in 2016 – providing the electoral margin that gave Donald Trump the presidency.
In Pennsylvania, both parties play to their base. As a result – according to a recent Philadelphia Inquirer analysis – blue areas are getting bluer and red areas redder. What that means is that even when the top of the ticket loses – as it did in 2014 and 2018 – Republicans in the Legislature hold their majorities in BOTH chambers of the Legislature. Take a look at the map of Republican representation in Pennsylvania’s Legislature in 2008. Red is Republican and Blue is Democrat…
Now here is Republican representation in Pennsylvania’s Legislature ten years later – in 2018:
In contrast, both parties play to the Democrats’ base in New Jersey. As a result, the situation is quite different for the GOP in New Jersey… “in retreat” would be a kind way of putting it.
According to the Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study, 70.6 percent of Americans self-identify as “Christian” – with 25.4 percent belonging to Evangelical Protestant denominations, 14.7 percent Mainline Protestant, and 20.8 percent Roman Catholic. With most Evangelical denominations, there’s over a 40 percent spread in favor of Republicans when it comes to voting habits. So it follows that it would make sense to at least keep in touch with these voters and turn as many out to vote as possible. And that’s exactly what happens in Pennsylvania.
But not in New Jersey.
Transgender people only make up about 0.6 percent of the U.S. population—and of that already slim minority, just two percent of respondents to the 2015 U.S. Trans Survey said they were Republican. Too often, this is who the GOP targets its message towards in New Jersey.
Don’t believe us? Then read this statement from the Bob Hugin for United States Senate campaign: “Bob Hugin strongly supports equality and opportunity for the LGBTQ community and will be a leader on these issues as senator. If President Trump wants to roll back equality and opportunity for the LGTBQ community, Bob Hugin won't hesitate to stand up to the president.”
Can anyone point to a similar campaign statement made on behalf of the Pro-Life community? Or the Evangelical community? Or traditional values Christians of any kind? All of these groups are far more inclined to vote Republican and are far greater in numbers than 0.6 percent. But instead of making the most of what would come to them naturally, the GOP in New Jersey too often finds itself trying to expand that 2 percent of 0.6 percent… and hoping it will become a wave.
How else can you explain the fact that New Jersey was the only state delegation in America to send a transgendered person to the 2016 Republican National Convention? And this is NEW JERSEY, where the party establishment selects carefully chosen insiders to run as delegates to the Republican National Convention. In this case however, the candidate didn’t even need to run and instead was selected as a special, add-on delegate.
How many Evangelical pastors got to go to the 2016 Republican National Convention as part of the New Jersey delegation? How about some real diversity?
Hey, if a transgendered person can swallow the RNC platform, she or he is more than welcome in our big tent… but don’t throw out everyone else just to make it comfortable for her. That doesn’t get you a big tent, it gets you the sack… you lose elections.
The transgendered person who got to go to the 2016 National Convention is a well-known activist for LGBTQ causes and is active with the LGBTQ Victory Institute Candidate & Campaign Training program for 2019. The Victory Institute is in the process of training dozens of liberal candidates to take on traditional Republicans throughout the country. In a recent news story, this LGBTQ activist/ RNC delegate had this to say about traditional Republicans:
“As a Republican, I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed at how a minor offshoot of the Republican party—one that's very bent on religious freedom—is really directing our current administration to take away the liberty, freedom, and equality that millions of Americans who just happened to be LGBTQ currently enjoy.”
Traditional Christianity, Roman Catholicism, and Evangelicals are not “minor offshoots” of the Republican Party. It’s the majority of America. It’s a majority that enjoys its religious freedom and holds it dear. It is a majority that does not want to see its daughters made to shower with anatomical males. It is a majority that doesn’t like the creep of criminalization occurring in other countries when supposedly free people fail to use the “correct” pronoun to describe someone.
Save Jersey’s Matt Rooney recently wrote a well-received call to arms for New Jersey Republicans to rediscover social issues. As we have seen, the embedded social liberalism and ongoing contempt for Christian conservatives by well-placed Republican operatives in New Jersey will make progress towards Rooney’s goal difficult but not impossible. There is a lot of work to do.