South Jersey residents do not support the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, or his immediate impeachment, as much as North Jersey residents do, according to a recently released Stockton University poll.
Only 46% polled in the eight southern counties favored continuing the impeachment inquiry, and 47% said they opposed it. When the poll asked whether they support impeaching now, that number dropped to 33% in support and 46% opposed.
North Jersey residents supported both by significant percentages in the poll of 544 adult state residents, conducted by phone by Stockton students Oct. 3 through 7.
The poll results underscore the North-South divide and why candidates in the southern part of the state have a tricky line to walk to avoid alienating half of their voters.
U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, D-2nd, for example, is the lone Democrat in New Jersey’s congressional delegation to continue to oppose the impeachment effort, angering some Democrats in his district, which includes all of Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Salem counties, and which voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
“South Jersey is more rural and more conservative than most of the rest of the state,” said John Froonjian, interim executive director of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton, which conducted the poll. “The 2nd has always been seen as a Republican-leaning district.” Van Drew will be up for re-election in 2020.
“Remember, Donald Trump won the 2nd and 3rd congressional districts covering most of South Jersey in 2016,” Froojian said, adding, “The easiest time to knock off an incumbent is the first time they run for re-election.”
In contrast, U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, D-3rd, changed his mind and now supports the impeachment effort, after hearing about Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian president in which Trump asked for Ukraine to investigate the actions of Hunter Biden, son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Though the 3rd District, which covers large parts of Burlington and Ocean counties, also voted for Trump in 2016, the demographics there seem to be changing faster than in the 2nd, Froonjian said.
President Donald Trump’s tweet thanking Congressman Jeff Van Drew, D-2nd, for opposing impea…
“There is more of a Democratic demographic benefit to him there. The western part of Burlington County is pretty Democratic,” Froonjian said. “Burlington is changing a lot even at the county government level. Ocean County remains a Republican stronghold, though.”
In state races, the 1st and 2nd legislative districts are expected to have some of the toughest and most expensive races for state Assembly this November. The first covers Cape May and parts of Cumberland and Atlantic counties; the 2nd covers almost all of Atlantic County.
The 1st also has the only state Senate race up this year, to fill Van Drew’s unexpired term after he left for Congress in January.
The 1st District Republican team of Vineland attorney Michael Testa Jr. for Senate and Ocean City Councilman Antwan McClellan and Lower Township Mayor Erik Simonsen for Assembly has hit hard at Democrats. They have called Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s agenda “insane,” opposing most vigorously his tax increases and his policy against allowing counties to work with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deport undocumented people accused of serious crimes.
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Testa is working pro bono on a lawsuit by Cape May County against the state attorney general’s attempt to block Sheriff Robert Nolan from working with ICE.
The incumbent Democrat team of Sen. Bob Andrzejczak and Assemblymen Bruce Land and Matt Milam also supports the county’s decision to work with ICE, breaking with most Democrats on the issue.
Froonjian said running against Murphy’s record is a gamble, since many New Jerseyans remain unfamiliar with him.
“Gov. Murphy is not as strong a bogeyman in terms of partisan politics as Donald Trump is to Democrats,” Froonjian said. “But running against his policies may ring a little louder for voters that care about immigration and ICE issues.”