On November 7, 2017, Phil Murphy became Governor-elect for the State of New Jersey. Phil Murphy won the New Jersey gubernatorial race against Kim Guadagno by 14 points (56% to 42%). However, a review of exit polls, indicates that Murphy’s win can be directly attributed to the overwhelming support from the Black and Hispanic/Latino voters. Murphy received 94% of the Black vote, and 82%f the Hispanic/Latino vote.
New Jersey has a White population of 72%, of which Guardano won 53% to Murphy’s 45%. The Black population in New Jersey is 10% and Hispanic/Latino is 13%. Consequently, without tremendous support from the minority community, in particular, Black voters, the election results might be different. Murphy’s 94% support from Black voters is reminiscent of Barack Obama securing 93% of the Black vote to Mitt Romney’s 7% during the 2012 Presidential election, and far outperforms Hillary Clinton’s 88% received in the 2016 Presidential election against Donald Trump.
Despite record low statewide turnout, Murphy’s victory was helped by strong turnout in the northern part of the state. In Essex County, the third largest county in New Jersey by population, where Blacks are the largest racial demographic, representing 38.5% of the population, Murphy won 80% of the vote. In Hudson County, the fourth largest county in New Jersey by population, where Hispanics are the largest racial demographic, representing 43% of the population, Murphy also won 80% of the vote.
Murphy’s methodical and strategic campaign to engage and energize the Black community was successful, as proven by the exit poll data. His main headquarters are in Newark, New Jersey, where he received an early endorsement from Newark’s Mayor Ras Baraka, and numerous local politicians. President Obama issued his endorsement for Murphy at a hotel in downtown Newark, to a room packed with neighborhood residents rubbing elbows with dignitaries, clergy and staffers. Murphy was endorsed by 300 faith leaders and frequented many Black churches with his senior political advisor, Derrick Greene.
There were also historical implications of importance to the Black community, associated with Murphy’s campaign. As a result of November 7th win, Murphy’s running mate, Sheila Oliver, will be the first African-American to serve as Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey. “Phil Murphy and Sheila Oliver deserved the support they received by the Black community. They spoke to issues important to our lives and our futures. Everybody in my family, church and neighborhood thinks it about time for a stronger and definitely, fairer economy,” said Kenny Miller, a Newark Essex County resident.