New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie claimed victory over Democratic state Senator Barbara Buono in last night’s gubernatorial election, securing his second term as governor. According to ABC News, Christie captured 60% of the vote while Buono received a mere 39%. Despite this landslide win for Christie, Buono still managed to capture certain voter demographics; specifically, the majority of votes from young people. MSNBC’s exit polls show Buono taking 51% of votes from people ages 18-29 compared to Christie’s 49%. While Christie won a landslide election, there is an evident — albeit marginal — trend amongst young voters in New Jersey: they are more likely to vote for a progressive candidate than a conservative.
With that being said, this could put an interesting twist on the 2016 presidential election. Many people have argued that Christie’s victory as governor increases the likelihood of making a presidential bid (Source: NPR). However, the website www.270towin.com shows that New Jersey has not voted for the Republican candidate in a presidential election since 1988. MSNBC’s exit polls gave insight to the possible direction of the state in 2016. When asked (hypothetically) whether they would vote for Hillary Clinton (D) or Chris Christie (R) in the 2016 presidential election, 48% of voters chose Clinton, while 44% would cast their vote for Christie. According to NBC exit polls for the 2012 presidential election, young voters aged 18-29 made up 19% of total voters, with 60% voting for the Democratic candidate: President Barack Obama. Based on this information, people can infer that young voters in New Jersey would support the hypothetical candidate Hillary Clinton over Chris Christie in 2016.
Last night, New Jerseyans also voted to increase the minimum wage to $8.25 an hour, a change from the $7.25 mandated by the federal government. According to The Washington Post, Governor Christie vetoed a bill that would have increased the state minimum wage to $8.50 an hour. In retaliation, the Democratic Senate decided to put the measure on the ballot and allow the people to choose directly. The Associated Press determined that nearly 61% of the electorate voted to increase the minimum wage.
Before I came to college in Washington, DC, I lived in New Jersey. Many of my friends had to help pay their college tuitions by working minimum wage jobs. For them, it was barely enough. However, through our votes, we managed to change the system and help the state. Even though minimum wage was only raised a dollar, it will have a huge impact on my friends and will help them make more money to pay for college.
In this election, my friends and I voted for the candidates that best supported our interests. Even though for some of us, our candidate did not win, we still went to the polls and exercised our rights to try and make a change. My friends and I are proof: that young people have the ability to change the world they live in by exercising their right to vote.