“It’s going to be a tough road for Republicans,” says Brigid Harrison,” a political scientist at Montclair State University in Montclair, N.J. “We can’t ignore decades' worth of data that indicate that Democrats tend to control the federal process in New Jersey.”
Indeed, Garden State voters are among the most left-leaning in the country: They went for President Obama by a margin of nearly 18 percentage points in November.
Still, the state’s top seat is occupied by a brash Republican governor, Chris Christie, who won the hearts of many of his constituents once – and is likely to do so again later this year in New Jersey's gubernatorial race.
“You have to recall we’ll be coming off a pretty clear Christie victory in 2013,” says Dr. Harrison. “Chris Christie is the embodiment of the Republican Party in this state … so … there is going to be this kind of surging Republicanism in the state of New Jersey.”
Nonetheless, she says, “No [Republican contender] is waiting in the wings so well qualified, well organized, ready to step into the role immediately to combat the fundraising prowess Democrats currently have, namely [Newark Mayor] Cory Booker.”