News & Politics

Did the Associated Press Call the New Jersey Governor's Race Too Soon?

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, Pool

New Jersey Republicans are angry at the Associated Press and they very well may have an excellent reason for that. AP called the state’s governor’s race for Democrat Phil Murphy last evening with nearly 10 percent of the vote outstanding.

Out of almost 2.5 million votes cast, Murphy was in the lead by less than 36,000 votes. Stami Williams, the communications director for Republican Jack Ciattarelli’s campaign, criticized the Associated Press for calling the race when it did.

AP made the call because their models showed them that the Republican candidate was extremely unlikely to overcome Governor Phil Murphy’s lead. The votes that were yet to be counted were from heavily Democratic precincts and those outstanding votes from GOP precincts weren’t enough to overturn the decision.

But perhaps some enterprising and curious journalist might ask why reporting from heavily Democratic precincts significantly lagged behind reporting from GOP precincts. Did all the Democrats fail basic arithmetic in school? Did they run out of fingers to count the votes?

Since there are no enterprising journalists left, and God forbid any journalist show a smidgeon of curiosity, this mystery and other mysteries of the universe will go unanswered.

According to the New York Times, the delay was because of a change in the way the votes were tabulated.

This year, New Jersey did not permit local election officials to begin “pre-processsing” ballots — which includes opening, verifying and scanning ballots — until Election Day, causing a massive backlog of more than 520,000 mail ballots to be counted in a single day. During the 2020 election in New Jersey, officials were allowed to begin processing 10 days before Election Day, which ensured a much smoother tabulation process.

New voting laws and voting equipment in use for the first time in the 2021 election also sparked confusion among both election workers and voters. New electronic poll books proved confusing for workers, forcing some voters to have to cast a provisional ballot. Other voters brought their mail ballot to their precincts, a voting method permitted in 2020 but not in 2021. Those voters were then forced to vote provisionally.

Another good reason to question the AP’s precipitous call for Murphy.

Needless to say, Ciattarelli ran a brave campaign in a state where the Democrats have a one-million voter registration advantage. In the end, it just wasn’t enough.

Washington Examiner:

Republican political strategist and campaign veteran Mike DuHaime said he and most in the GOP were surprised at just how close the numbers were. If the final margin is less than 15,000 votes, DuHaime said that “perhaps” there could be a recount.

Despite Murphy’s narrow lead, New Jersey’s last Republican governor said the results represent a win for the GOP.

“Every pollster was wrong. This is likely to be a recount race, either way,” Chris Christie told  Townhall’s  Guy Benson .

PJM’s Matt Margolis speculated that a recount was likely given the narrow margin of victory for Murphy. But 30,000 votes would be a lot to make up in a recount, and if the margin remains close to what it is now, without strong hints of election irregularities, Ciattarelli will probably throw in the towel.