After months and months of debates, campaign ads, campaign stops, and everything else; voters will finally get to go the ballot box and cast their vote for either Governor Chris Christie or state Senator Barbara Buono (D-18). Polls as recently as Monday show a race that is separated by somewhere between 20 and 33 points in Christie's favor. Nonetheless, Buono will continue to fight until the last votes are cast.
As she has had stated during the campaign,
My entire life has been an uphill battle. I am the little guy. I am the underdog. I was on my own since I was 19. This is a piece of cake compared to standing on the edge of that fiscal abyss and not knowing where you’re going to eat or sleep that night, and that’s what I’ve been through. It made me the person I am. It’s made me strong. It’s made me tenacious. I’m dogged. And I don’t give up.
Working against Buono has been factors like campaign cash, name recognition, and a divided Democratic Party compared to the strong backing of Republicans for Christie. Another factor that has impacted the governor's race is the U.S. Senate special election that took place about three weeks ago. A lot of attention was given to that special election; a special election that could have easily been slated with the rest of the state elections. However, Christie chose to schedule it on a Wednesday in October and not the same day as his election against Buono. Whether he was trying to prevent a higher Democratic turnout for Buono with voters casting ballots for Booker or he wanted to give the special election its own day or another reason; that decision has not aided Buono.
It has almost felt like she has only had the last three weeks to field a comeback with no other major race taking place and did see some positive results in polls last month before the last few days when the gap between her and Christie started to widen again. Without the special election taking place in general and the major focus on it during half of this year, Buono might have been able to build more on her campaign and generate more buzz around her campaign like what was seen with newly elected Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)'s campaign.
As Christie and Buono enter the final hours, voters are left with two paths for New Jersey. Voters can elect someone who has battled proposals for a millionaire's tax or they can elect someone has been attacked for her role in former Governor Jon Corzine's administration with tax increases. Voters can elect someone who has battled unions and made reforms that directly impact them or they can elect someone who has the support of the unions and will continue to fight for them; not against them. Voters can elect someone who will likely continue to travel on behalf of his party and potentially himself as 2016 nears or they can elect someone who will be much more focused on staying in the Garden State and putting all of her efforts here at home.
New Jersey voters truly do have two paths to choose from for the next four years. One easily could continue to run down each issue. From education to gun control/violence to women's health, the two candidates sit on opposite sides of the fence. Legislation like the same sex marriage bill or the gun reform package would likely sail through under a Governor Buono's administration while those type of bills will almost certainly continue to stonewall under a Governor Christie second term.
The infamous 1980 presidential election ad by Republican candidate Ronald Reagan comes to mind. Are New Jerseyans better off than they were four years ago? Is there a Jersey Comeback taking place or does the state need a new direction? Based on polls, there might not be a definite answer to that main question and any secondary questions; but it looks like voters are satisfied enough with what they have had. Results and data from non-partisan groups and offices have shown mixed results for Christie during his time as governor. When your poll numbers are well above 50% and you are up by at least 20%, Christie can certainly let those numbers do a lot of his talking.
At the end of the day, the election still has to take place and with politics nothing is ever 100% guaranteed. One could look to the U.S. Senate special election race and how it became closer than originally expected. Christie is likely to win, but will he get the large win he has been planning for?