New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District
New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District covers a large swath of the southern portion of the state. It contains eight counties and over 730,000 residents as of the 2020 census. Let’s take a closer look at the demographic makeup, voting patterns, economy, and political climate of this district.
Overview of New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District
The 2nd Congressional District currently stretches across parts of Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Salem, Cumberland, Cape May, Atlantic and Ocean counties. It contains major population centers such as Vineland, Atlantic City and Ocean City.
The district is represented by Jeff Van Drew, a Republican who flipped parties in December 2019 after being elected as a Democrat in 2018. He won reelection in 2020 and will be up for reelection again in 2022.
Demographic Makeup of the District
The 2nd District is predominantly white, making up nearly 75% of the population. However, it does contain diverse pockets, including a significant Hispanic/Latino population of over 15% concentrated mainly in Vineland and Atlantic City.
The district trends older than the national average, with over 20% of residents aged 65 or older. Education levels vary across the district, with the coastal communities having higher rates of college degrees than the inland regions.
Income levels also cover a wide range. The district contains both economically depressed areas, such as Salem County which has a median income under $70,000, as well as affluent beach communities like Ocean City where the median income is over $100,000.
Political Leanings of District 2
The 2nd District historically leaned Republican but has shifted to become more of a swing district in recent years. In the 2020 presidential election, the district narrowly went for Donald Trump over Joe Biden by about 1 percentage point after voting for Trump by nearly 5 points in 2016.
Based on recent voting patterns, the 2nd District has a Cook PVI of R+1, meaning it performs just 1 point more Republican than the nation as a whole. This makes it a prime battleground district in any given election year.
Recent Election Results in District 2
The competitiveness of this district has been on full display in recent election cycles.
In 2020, Jeff Van Drew faced a tough challenge from Democrat Amy Kennedy. Kennedy attacked Van Drew for switching parties in 2019, labeling him as a turncoat. Van Drew won reelection by just over 8,000 votes out of over 330,000 cast.
This close margin was a far cry from Van Drew’s 2018 victory, where he defeated Republican Seth Grossman by nearly 20 points in the midterm elections that saw large Democratic gains across the country.
Geographic Breakdown of District 2
While coastal communities such as Ocean City and Atlantic City account for much of the district’s economic activity through tourism, the district extends far inland to capture large swaths of agricultural areas and towns.
Major population centers include Vineland, Glassboro, Buena Vista Township, and Egg Harbor Township. The inland regions like Cumberland and Salem counties possess more rural, conservative-leaning voters.
Economic Drivers in District 2
The economy in District 2 revolves heavily around tourism and hospitality along the Jersey Shore. popular beach destinations like Ocean City and Cape May cater to throngs of summer vacationers each year.
Casino gaming and entertainment in Atlantic City also provides a major employment base, along with the city’spush to rebrand itself as a family destination.
Agriculture, including cranberries, tomatoes, and livestock, makes up a significant industry inland. Two major state forests and various wildlife management areas also help drive economic activity through recreation and tourism.
Role of District 2 in State Politics
As one of the most competitive House districts in New Jersey, District 2 plays an outsized role in determining political control of the state. Candidates from both parties often direct funds and resources here in an attempt to swing this district in their favor.
Due to its large senior population and Atlantic City ties, policies related to Social Security, Medicare, and gaming are critical issues. The split between urban and rural regions also leads to clashes on issues like gun control. Both parties tread carefully on these divides within the district.
New Jersey’s sprawling 2nd Congressional District provides an encapsulated view of the state’s diverse landscape and politics. While leaning Republican, its recent close margins make District 2 a keystone to winning elections in New Jersey. The region’s array of credentialed, urban professionals blending with rural, inland conservatives embodies the compelling political narratives continuing to unfold in this bayshore battleground.
What is the Cook PVI score of District 2?
The Cook PVI score for District 2 is R+1, meaning in performs just 1 point more Republican than the nation as a whole.
Who represented the district before Jeff Van Drew?
Frank LoBiondo, a Republican, represented the district for over 20 years before retiring in 2018. Jeff Van Drew won the open seat as a Democrat that year.
What is the largest city in District 2?
Vineland, with a population of over 60,000 as of the 2020 census, is the largest city fully within the boundaries of District 2.
What election was the closest in recent years?
The 2020 election, when Jeff Van Drew defeated Democratic challenger Amy Kennedy by just over 8,000 votes out of over 330,000 cast.
What industries are important in District 2?
Key industries include tourism/hospitality, casino gaming, agriculture, and commercial fishing.