Hamil­ton is as di­vided as Amer­ica

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - NEWS - Jeff Edel­stein Colum­nist

The late, great Rider Uni­ver­sity po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor (and statewide pol­i­tics ex­pert) David Re­bovich was fond of say­ing some­thing to the ef­fect of “as goes Hamil­ton, so goes the state.”

Ba­si­cally, he be­lieved — based on both re­search and ob­ser­va­tion — that Hamil­ton (his adopted home­town) was a bell­wether for state pol­i­tics.

I won­der, then, what he would have to say about this year’s midterm elec­tion, which, quite frankly, had me baf­fled. (Un­til I fig­ured it out. Oh, the sus­pense!)

Ba­si­cally, Hamil­ton was not part of the state’s blue wave. If any­thing, it gave back some of the blue.

Bob Hu­gin, the failed Repub­li­can Se­nate can­di­date, got 48.5 per­cent of the vote in Hamil­ton. Back in 2016, then-can­di­date Don­ald Trump re­ceived 47 per­cent. In short: While the rest of the state turned blue, Hamil­ton res­i­dents took a step to­ward the red.

An­other, per­haps bet­ter way to look at it: Hamil­ton res­i­dents, as a whole, are way more sat­is­fied with Don­ald Trump than the rest of the state as a whole.

The drop-off in votes cast was about the same for both po­lit­i­cal par­ties, mak­ing the uptick for Hu­gin all the more sur­pris­ing. (The ac­tual num­bers: In 2016, Clin­ton got 21,608 votes in Hamil­ton, Trump 19,396. On Tues­day, Me­nen­dez got 14,431 and Hu­gin 13,638.)

So is it over for Hamil­ton-as-bell­wether? Is this just a blip? Is there a de­mo­graphic shift un­der­way? What does this mean for the 2019 Hamil­ton may­oral elec­tion? Is any­one still read­ing? The ques­tions are end­less. But here’s one take. Maybe Hamil­ton is, in fact, truly dead as the state’s bell­wether.

But maybe it’s right on tar­get when it comes to the na­tion’s.

Vox.com wrote Thurs­day about Amer­ica’s “cold civil war,” which, based on the na­tional num­bers from Tues­day, looks like this: Col­lege-ed­u­cated white peo­ple and mi­nori­ties on one side, non-col­lege ed­u­cated white peo­ple on the other.

Now this is not to say ev­ery­one who went to col­lege or is a mi­nor­ity votes Demo­crat and vice-versa, but the ma­jor­ity did in this past elec­tion, as well as in 2016.

And a look at Hamil­ton’s cen­sus as com­pared to Amer­ica’s is shock­ing in its sim­i­lar­ity.

Na­tion­wide, 30 per­cent of those 25 and older have a bach­e­lor’s de­gree. In Hamil­ton, it’s 27 per­cent.

The coun­try is 13.4 per­cent African-Amer­i­can. Hamil­ton is 13.4 per­cent African-Amer­i­can.

The county is 18 per­cent His­panic, Hamil­ton is 14 per­cent.

Hamil­ton, in short, is a pretty good mi­cro­cosm of the coun­try as a whole when it comes to mi­nor­ity and col­lege-ed­u­cated pop­u­la­tions.

And as a re­sult — much like the na­tion as a whole — the town­ship split its vote the last two years run­ning, and, as pointed out up top, ac­tu­ally tilted a lit­tle to the GOP side this time around.

Again, what does this all mean? Im­pos­si­ble to say. But I bet Re­bovich would’ve jumped at the chance to agree with me on this: “As goes Hamil­ton, so goes the na­tion.”

Look­ing for­ward to 2020 to see how that plays out.

Jeff Edel­stein is a colum­nist for The Tren­to­nian. He can be reached at jedel­stein@ tren­to­nian.com, face­book. com/jef­freyedel­stein and @ jeffedel­stein on Twit­ter.

Hamil­ton

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