Obama, Incumbent Legislators Win In Light Local Turnout

President Barack Obama (Photo credit: Pete Souza, The Obama-Biden Transition Project)

STATE – As expected, President Barack Obama carried New Jersey on Election Day. What was in doubt was whether the president could overcome the fractured political climate and defeat Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the nationwide race.

Obama captured six of nine “swing states” to help him win an estimated 303 electoral votes, more than the 270 needed to secure his second term. On Election Night, Obama said via his official Twitter account, “We’re all in this together. That’s how we campaigned, and that’s who we are. Thank you.”

Republicans maintained control of the House of Representatives, which is expected to continue to present a road block to Obama’s agenda. Democrats maintained control of the Senate, but Republicans still have enough votes to stall legislation with delaying tactics.

Incumbents carried the day in New Jersey’s congressional races, taking advantage of the new legislative map that largely preserved the status quo. All six Republicans and five Democrats were re-elected Tuesday. Newark City Council President Donald Payne Jr. defeated Republican Brian Keleman in the 10th District, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 10 to 1. It was the delegation’s only open seat, which has been vacant since U.S. Rep. Donald Payne died in March.

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez defeated Republican challenger state Sen. Joe Kyrillos 58 percent to 40 percent to win another term. After learning of his victory, Menendez told supporters “I told you that I would stand up for the middle class and tonight you sent me back to Washington. I am deeply grateful for this victory and for your support and for another six years in Washington.”

Voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state constitution that would require judges to pay more towards their health and pension benefits, which was necessary to implement benefit changes following a state Supreme Court ruling.

Voters also approved a question to allow the state to borrow $750 million to pay for classroom and lab construction at colleges and universities in New Jersey.

With thousands of residents still without power on Election Day and many displaced from their homes by Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey may have set a new record low turnout for a presidential election year.

With 99 percent of districts reporting, just 3.3 million cast ballots in the presidential race – just over 60 percent of New Jersey’s 5.5 million registered voters. The previous low in a presidential contest was set in 2000, when 70 percent turned out.

While thousands of mail in and provisional votes remained to be counted, the total turnout would need to increase by 542,000 to avoid setting a new record low, and that is not expected to happen.

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