Hamilton is as divided as America
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.