Who will New Jersey voters support for President?
Monday night’s presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was fiery and argumentative, with Clinton attacking Trump's "shoot from the hip" style and lack of global experience, while Trump attacked Clinton for not getting results and being part of a do-nothing political establishment that he said has led to the decline of America.
According to Brigid Harrison, professor of political science at Montclair State University, there were several appeals made by both candidates to racial and ethnic minorities as well as small business owners during the debate, especially when Clinton went after Trump for not paying some of his Atlantic City workers for jobs that had been completed.
So how much will that play in the Garden State?
Harrison said people who were not paid by Donald Trump are not going to be his supporters anyway, but "it added insult to injury to say that maybe he didn’t like the work that they had done. That can’t obviously be universally true with all of the craftsmen and all of the people who were working on his various properties."
Ben Dworkin, professor of political science at Rider University, agreed that many New Jerseyans might not approve of Trump stiffing casino workers, but "things that might ordinarily hurt a candidate don’t seem to hurt him. The question of whether working people will be upset, offended by his attitude, I’m not sure, because it hasn’t really so far."
Harrison said during the debate, Clinton tried to convince people she was both trustworthy and likeable.
"She probably scored a few points for likeability, but she scored many more points among women who perhaps identified with her being shouted over, saw her being denigrated by a candidate," Harrison said, adding that Trump tried to prove to swing voters he is both temperamentally suited to the presidency and also has the expertise for the job.
"I think he started out very strong early on, and the people who were rooting him on in New Jersey were pleased by his performance, but as the night wore on, most of the focus groups indicated he just wasn’t able to hold it together long enough and he reverted back to his campaign mode," she said. "That will resonate with Trump supporters, but I don’t know it does anything to broaden his appeal more widely."
Harrison pointed out Clinton made mention of issues like paid family leave, reducing student debt, and increasing solar power during the debate, issues supported by many Garden State residents.
"I think the reality is New Jersey is going to vote with Hillary Clinton, and so it would make sense that the kind of issues she is discussing and the kind of policies she supports are the same policy positions held by most New Jerseyans," she said.
"All of those issues will make a difference for people in New Jersey, but I think she was already going to win New Jersey by 8 to 12 points anyway," Dworkin said.
David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5.