Politics of New Jersey
In 1776, the first constitution of New Jersey was drafted. Written during the American Revolution, it created a basic framework for state government and allowed "all inhabitants of this Colony, of full age, who are worth fifty pounds proclamation money"  to vote (including blacks, spinsters, and widows); married women could not own property under common law. The constitution declared itself temporary and void if there was reconciliation with Great Britain.   Both parties in elections mocked the other party for relying on "petticoat electors", and accused each other of allowing unqualified women to vote.
The second version of the constitution was adopted on June 29, 1844, and restricted suffrage to white males. Important components of the second state constitution included the separation of powers among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The new constitution also provided a bill of rights, and granted voters (instead of the legislature) the right to elect the governor.
After World War II, New Jersey was a Republican-leaning swing state in presidential elections; from the 1948 to the 1988, Republican candidates won nine out of 11 elections. John F. Kennedy won New Jersey in 1960 by 22,000 votes, and Lyndon B. Johnson won in 1964 as a part of his landslide victory. Although New Jersey had several highly-populated Democratic urban areas such as Camden, Newark, and Jersey City, the state was also becoming home to suburbs of New York City and Philadelphia. Voters in suburban New Jersey were overwhelmingly white, and more likely to vote Republican. From 1943 to 1979, New Jersey was represented in the US Senate by a Democrat and a Republican.
Since 1992, New Jersey has voted for Democrats in every presidential election. Bill Clinton won a plurality of New Jersey's popular vote that year, and a majority of New Jersey's popular vote in 1996. Among Republican New Jersey voters, those living in rural parts of the state tended to vote for conservative Republicans; suburban voters tended to prefer liberal, or moderate, Republicans. During the 1980s, a significant number of Asian-Americans immigrated to the northeastern and central parts of the state and tended to vote Democratic.
Since 2002, the New Jersey Legislature has been overwhelmingly Democratic; in October 2019, there were over 976,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans.  Democrats tend to do well in areas near New York City, Philadelphia, and Trenton, and cities such as Jersey City, Newark, Camden, Elizabeth, Trenton, Paterson are overwhelmingly Democratic. These cities influence counties (such as Hudson, Essex, Camden, Passaic, Union and Middlesex) to vote Democratic. Predominantly suburban and rural counties, especially along the Jersey Shore and northwestern New Jersey, tend to vote Republican; this includes counties such as Ocean, Warren, Cape May and Hunterdon. Other counties, such as Atlantic, Monmouth, Cumberland, are considered "swing" counties; they tend to vote closely within the margins of each party, swaying in one direction or the other.
The 2016 presidential election in New Jersey was won by Hillary Clinton in 12 counties. Trump won nine counties, with a vote percentage of 55.45 to 41.35 percent. Trump flipped two counties (Gloucester and Salem) which had voted Democratic in 2012. Every county voted identically in 2016 and the 2017 gubernatorial election with the exception of Gloucester, which flipped back to Democratic. In the 2018 Senate election, Atlantic and Gloucester Counties flipped Republican.
|County||2016 presidential||2017 gubernatorial||2018 Senate|
Eight counties (Burlington, Camden, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, and Union) have a majority of Democratic registrants, and four (Cape May, Hunterdon, Sussex, and Warren) have a majority of Republican registrants; the rest have a majority of unaffiliated voters. Of those with an unaffiliated majority, seven counties have more Democrats than Republicans (Atlantic, Bergen, Cumberland, Monmouth, Passaic, Salem, and Somerset) and two counties (Morris and Ocean) have more Republicans than Democrats.
Two counties (Essex and Hudson) have a majority of their registrants in one party (Democratic). The highest percentage of unaffiliated voters is in Cumberland County (43.9 percent). The highest percentage of Democrats is in Hudson (54.8 percent); the highest percentage of Republicans is in Sussex (41.4 percent), and the highest percentage registered in other parties is in Cumberland (1.9 percent). The lowest percentage of unaffiliated is in Hudson (34 percent), Democrats is in Sussex (20.7 percent), Republicans is in Hudson (9.7 percent), and other parties is tied in Essex and Hunterdon (0.8 percent each). The county with the closest Democratic-Republican percentages is Monmouth, with Democrats at 27.9 percent and Republicans at 27.8 percent. The county with the largest Democratic-Republican percentage spread is Hudson (45.1 percent). Bergen County has the largest number of registered voters (633,545), and Salem County has the smallest (46,752).
|County [a]||Unaffiliated||Una %||Democratic||Dem %||Republican||Rep %||Other||O %||Total|
- Counties are colored based on majority party registration.
|District [a]||Unaffiliated||Una %||Democratic||Dem %||Republican||Rep %||Other||O %||Total|
The most contentious recent issue in New Jersey has been the conflict between the state government and public-sector unions. The unions, allied with the Democratic Party, believed that their workers were entitled to pensions and healthcare which had been promised to them in the past. Moderate Democrats and Republicans believed that the state could no longer afford to pay for benefits it had promised public workers in the past.  
Property taxes are also an issue, since the state has the nation's highest property tax.  New Jersey is a densely-populated, high-income, high-cost-of-living state, with more money needed for infrastructure and transportation, and it does not allow counties and municipalities to impose local income or sales taxes. Property taxes fund local government, schools and county expenses, making lowering it difficult. 
Legalized gambling is also an issue. In 2011, Governor Chris Christie and Senate President Steve Sweeney promised to limit gambling to Atlantic City for "at least five years" to protect the struggling tourist destination from intrastate competition. Developers are pressuring the legislature to allow gambling in other parts of the state, such as the Meadowlands. New Jersey challenged the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 2014, which had grandfathered Nevada's federal statutory monopoly on legal sports betting. The Supreme Court overturned the appellate-court decision, removing the final barrier to New Jersey sports betting on May 14, 2018. Justice Samuel Alito wrote the opinion supporting New Jersey's assertion that the PASPA infringed on the state's Tenth Amendment rights in Murphy vs. Collegiate Athletic Association.  The state quickly moved to capitalize on the ruling and allow sports betting at state-sanctioned sportsbooks at the Meadowlands Racetrack. 
In 2010, New Jersey legalized medical cannabis. The law, legalizing the drug for medical use, was passed by a Democratic government just before Christie (who was skeptical about legalized medical marijuana) took office. Christie subsequently vetoed, or requested alterations to, laws expanding the state's program. (New Jersey has two dispensaries.) The issue gained attention during the 2013 gubernatorial election, when the father of a young girl with epilepsy confronted Christie at a diner. In March 2019, a vote on recreational legalization was canceled at the last minute. The state senate did not have the 21 votes needed to pass, since all of its Republicans and nine of its Democrats opposed the bill. A 2020 referendum was announced, and a second legislative attempt was possible during a lame-duck session.  
On October 21, 2019, weeks after California passed a similar bill, state Senators Joseph Lagana (D-Bergen) and Sandra Cunningham (D-Hudson) introduced the New Jersey Fair Play Act. The bill would allow college athletes to be paid for the use of their names, images and likeness, and to hire an agent or lawyer. It intends to protect student athletes, since one injury can cost them their scholarship without a way to pay for school or vocational guidance. 
On February 4, 2019, Governor Phil Murphy signed a $15- minimum-wage bill into law. The law will increase the minimum wage by $1 every January 1st until it reaches $15 in 2024. When it was enacted, the state's minimum wage was $8.85. The first increase was on July 1, 2019 (to $10), and it will become $11 on January 1, 2020. The bill raises tipped-worker wages from $2.13 to $5.13 per hour; if a worker does not earn the minimum wage through tips, the employer must make up the difference. Farm-workers will only be raised to $12.50 an hour in 2024, then possibly raise it to $15 by 2027. 
In April 2004, New Jersey enacted a domestic-partnership law which is available to same- and opposite-sex couples aged 62 and over. In 2006, the Supreme Court of New Jersey ordered the state to provide the rights and benefits of marriage to gay and lesbian couples. The following year, New Jersey became the third state in the U.S. (after Connecticut and Vermont) to offer civil unions to same-sex couples. In 2013, the state supreme court ruled that New Jersey must allow same-sex couples to marry. A 2010 last-minute attempt to legalize same-sex marriage under outgoing Democratic governor failed because of objections by Senate President Steve Sweeney (also a Democrat). From 2010 to 2013, Governor Christie vetoed attempts by the state legislature to legalize same-sex marriage. Since the 2013 New Jersey Supreme Court ruling, three government-recognized relationships have been in effect in the state: domestic partnerships, civil unions, and marriage. Rhode Island and New Jersey are the two states which permit adult incestuous relationships.  
New Jersey has some of the country's strictest gun control laws, which include bans on assault firearms, hollow-nose bullets, and magazines which can hold more than 15 rounds. A permit is required to purchase any firearm, including shotguns, rifles, and handguns. No gun offense in New Jersey is graded less than a felony. BB guns, air guns, black-powder guns, and slingshots are statutory weapons. New Jersey does not recognize out-of-state gun licenses, and enforces its own gun laws. 
- Government of New Jersey
- Political party strength in New Jersey
- Elections in New Jersey
- Law of New Jersey
- Districts are colored by current political representation, not by the highest percentage of voters in each party.
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- Merkel, Dan (2009). Privilege Or Punish: Criminal Justice and the Challenge of Family Ties. Oxford University Press. p. 196.
- "N.J.A.C. Title 13 Chapter 54 - Firearms and Weapons" (PDF). New Jersey State Police. State of NJ Dep. of Law & Public Safety. Retrieved 7 February 2019.