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Will the blue wave turn the red wave into a ripple?

TRENTON — Despite redistricting changes that helped three of the four Democratic incumbents in New Jersey’s swing districts, Republicans walked out of the primary in June, believing a favorable political environment could fuel big gains in the state this year .

They still hope so. But things appear to have changed significantly in the past three months, with Democrats now feeling more confident that they will retain most or all of what they have won in recent election cycles.

The party that’s no longer in power — right now, the Republicans — usually has a motivational advantage in midterm elections. A few months ago, with soaring gas prices and headline inflation on top of that, it looked like a great year was shaping up for them.

But since June, with lower gas prices and the Supreme Court’s overturning of the nation’s abortion rights, that’s changed, says political scientist Micah Rasmussen, director of the Rebovich Institute for New York City policy. Jersey at Rider University.

“Both sides have reason to be excited”

“The Democrats have also been more engaged, and now it’s more like that 2018 environment where both sides have reason to be excited,” Rasmussen said.

The redistricting had already bolstered the odds for Democratic incumbents Josh Gottheimer, Andy Kim and Mikie Sherrill, as map boundary adjustments to rebalance their populations have also tilted those districts’ voter registration makeup toward the Democrats.

Rasmussen said the makeup of voter registrations in the 3rd and 11th districts moved 50,000 to the Democrats, while the 5th district moved 40,000 in their direction. Of the swing districts, only the 7th District moved to Republicans in the redistricting, by a network of about 30,000 voters.

“It takes a lot to knock out an incumbent, and there’s reason for him to be enthusiastic and upbeat everywhere but the 7th District,” Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen said three months ago he would have said Kean was the race favourite. It’s less pronounced now.

“But I think there’s still a lean,” he said. “You can’t really deny that Tom Kean still has an edge in this district.”

“It’s the only race in the state where you would say at this point that you could still see a detectable Republican lean at this point,” he said. “And we’ll see what happens because the environment is changing rapidly and I think it will continue to change rapidly through November.”

Rasmussen was referring to the thinness of the swing quarters. He said none of New Jersey’s incumbent Republicans — Chris Smith or Jeff Van Drew — are “sweating at this point.”

The election is in nine weeks, on November 8.

Given the levels of enthusiasm on both sides, Rasmussen said he wouldn’t be surprised to see a turnout similar to 2018’s midterm level of 56%.

“I think it’s possible,” he said. “And I don’t think we’ll be sitting here embarrassed by the few voters who voted after Election Day.”

Participation will not be close to two years ago, when it was 72% for the presidential election. The last three times the House races dominated the poll, turnout was 42% to 43% of registered voters.

Who’s on the ballot in New Jersey

  • House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio administers a House Oath of Office re-enactment ceremony to Rep. Donald Norcross, DN.J., accompanied by his wife Andrea Doran and daughter, Tuesday, 6 January 2015, at Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

    House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio administers a House Oath of Office re-enactment ceremony to Rep. Donald Norcross, DN.J., accompanied by his wife Andrea Doran and daughter, Tuesday, 6 January 2015, at Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
    1

    1ST DISTRICT

    Rep. Donald Norcross of Camden, Democratic Party

    Claire Gustafson of Collingswood, Republican Party

    Isaiah Fletcher of Cherry Hill, Libertarian Party

    Allen Cannon of Titusville, Cannon Firing

    Patricia Kline of Turnersville, For the People

  • Photo courtesy of the Committee

    Photo courtesy of the Committee
    2

    2ND DISTRICT

    Rep. Jeff Van Drew of Dennis Township, Republican Party

    Tim Alexander of Galloway, Democratic Party

    Michael Gallo of Lower Canton, Libertarian Party

    Anthony Parisi Sanchez de Millville, not for sale

  • 3

    3RD DISTRICT

    Representative Andy Kim of Moorestown, Democratic Party

    Bob Healey of Moorestown, Republican Party

    Christopher Russomanno of Bordentown, Libertarian Party

    Southampton’s Gregory Sobocinski, God Save America

  • Rep. Chris Smith (House Television via AP)

    Rep. Chris Smith (House Television via AP)
    4

    4TH DISTRICT

    Representative Christopher Smith of Toms River, Republican Party

    Matthew Jenkins of Colts Neck, Democratic Party

    Jason Cullen of Manalapan, Libertarian Party

    Pam Daniels from The Brick, progressing with Pam

    David Schmidt of Toms River, We the People

    Hank Schroeder of Sea Girt, no tagline filed

  • Congressman Josh Gottheimer (Office of Congressman Josh Gottheimer)

    Congressman Josh Gottheimer (Office of Congressman Josh Gottheimer)
    5

    5TH DISTRICT

    Representative Josh Gottheimer of Wyckoff, Democratic Party

    Frank Pallotta of Mahwah, Republican Party

    Jeremy Marcus of Monroe, Libertarian Party

    Trevor Ferrigno of Fair Lawn, Together We Stand

    Louis Vellucci of Mahwah, American Values

  • US Representative Frank Pallone (Getty Images)

    US Representative Frank Pallone (Getty Images)
    6

    6TH DISTRICT

    Representative Frank Pallone Jr. of Long Branch, Democratic Party

    Susan Kiley of Hazlet, Republican Party

    Tara Fisher of Lindenwold, Libertarian Party

    Eric Antisell from New Brunswick, Move Everyone Forward

    Inder Jit Soni of Edison, New Jersey Premier

  • Representative Tom Malinowski, D.N.J. 7th District.

    Representative Tom Malinowski, D.N.J. 7th District.
    seven

    7TH DISTRICT

    Representative Tom Malinowski of East Amwell, Democratic Party

    Thomas Kean Jr. of Westfield, Republican Party

    Veronica Fernandez from Long Valley, Of, By, For!

  • Michael Symons/Townsquare Media NJ

    Michael Symons/Townsquare Media NJ
    8

    8TH DISTRICT

    Robert Menendez of Jersey City, Democratic Party

    Marcos Arroyo of West New York, Republican Party

    Dan Delaney of Hoboken, Libertarian Party

    Joanne Kuniansky of West New York, Socialist Workers’ Party

    David Cook of Kearny, various slogans: The Mediator; People rather than parties; Vote for real change

    Pablo Olivera of Newark, Labor Party

    John Salierno of Jersey City, truth and merit

  • AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Folder

    AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Folder
    9

    9TH DISTRICT

    Representative Bill Pascrell Jr. of Paterson, Democratic Party

    Billy Prempeh of Paterson, Republican Party

    Sean Armstrong of Jersey City, Libertarian Party

    Lea Sherman of West New York, Socialist Workers Party

  • Rep. Donald Payne (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    Rep. Donald Payne (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
    ten

    10TH DISTRICT

    Representative Donald Payne Jr. of Newark, Democratic Party

    David Pinckney of Irvington, Republican Party

    Kendal Ludden of Bayonne, Libertarian Party

    Clenard Childress Jr. of East Orange, the Mahali Party

    Dorothy Jane Humphries of Jersey City, Together We Can

    Cynthia Johnson of Glen Ridge, Jobs and Justice

  • 11

    11TH DISTRICT

    Rep. Mikie Sherrill of Montclair, Democratic Party

    Paul DeGroot de Montville, Republican Party

    Joseph Biasco of Lincoln Park, Libertarian Party

  • Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman is sworn in January (Bonnie Watson Coleman via Facebook)

    Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman is sworn in January (Bonnie Watson Coleman via Facebook)
    12

    12TH DISTRICT

    Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman of Ewing, Democratic Party

    Darius Mayfield of East Brunswick, Republican Party

    Lynn Genrich of Allentown, Libertarian Party