Presidential primary elections are long and drawn out. The Republican field that started with 14 candidates at the first caucus in Iowa on February 1 is down to just Donald Trump as the party’s presumptive nominee, while Senator Bernie Sanders vowed to campaign until the very end against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Even though the contest is virtually decided with Trump having clinched the threshold of 1,237 delegates and Clinton only needing 73 more out of the remaining 913 to win the Democratic nomination, Bayonne residents still feel strongly about their candidates.
Bayonne resident and Republican voter, Eric Goble, said, “Things are getting so bad here that we need someone strong. Our voters spoke and they want Trump.” David and Dante, two young Bayonne residents, said, “We like more Bernie than Hillary. He’s less sheisty.” Two women, one who only wanted to be identified as Suzy and another who wished to remain anonymous agreed because, “[Sanders] cares about the workers, these guys down here striking and all these poor people…Trump don’t.” Her friend said she’s voting for Hillary. “I voted for her in 2008, too.”
Undecided with time
While waiting at the 22nd Street Light Rail Station, Howard Conyere, of Bayonne, said he’s undecided, but added, “If Donald Trump wins, I’m moving out the U.S. because our country will be a joke.” Support for every candidate was evident in Bayonne, including some who still liked Republican Ted Cruz, even though he dropped out of the race. Many even said that they choose not to vote at all. One man said, “I don’t vote. I don’t believe in it. I never voted once in my life.” He said that he does not have faith in the system. “They promise one thing and never deliver.”
Election year excitement
Michael Alonso is running for a seat on the county Republican committee and is a frequent critic of the Democratic leadership in Bayonne. He thinks fiscally conservative policies attract voters and that Trump’s candidacy is exciting the voting base in Bayonne. “I find a lot of strong support for Donald Trump in Bayonne,” he said. “There’s definitely an army rising up. [Democrats] have sugarcoated solutions for years, and now Trump is going to tell everyone the harsh reality of the situation.”
There’s also excitement among Democrats this election season. Even though Hillary Clinton has been the front runner for the entire election, support for Bernie Sanders’s progressive cause has been quickly rising nationally. In New Jersey, his poll ratings steadily gained around 10 points each month. Clinton’s numbers dropped from 64 percent in January to 53.9 percent in the most recent polling compared to Sanders’s 38.8 percent, according to 14 New Jersey polls averaged by the HuffPost Pollster.
Some Bayonne residents were canvasing around the city for Bernie Sanders in the weeks coming up to the elections. Hossein Aghabeikzadeh, an Iranian-American opera singer and activist, and his daughter Nina, a musician and film student, are Bayonne residents and Bernie Sanders supporters who canvased for him around the county in the weeks heading up to the primary. Aghabeikzadeh sings to some residents to sway them. “They like it a lot,” he said.The father and daughter only recently became Sanders supporters. “We didn’t know about him until a few months ago,” Aghabeikzadeh said.“He’s the most popular and most liked, but the Democratic Party is pushing him out.” He said that people like him because “other politicians aren’t talking about minimum wage, welfare, insurance, and all those things.” Though Sanders is popular with younger demographics, Nina Aghabeikzadeh said, “We met a man who very old and very hardcore for Bernie. He was over 80. I asked if he would like to volunteer, and he said, ‘I’m too old.’”
The primary election is usually seen as having less significance than the general election. New Jersey’s primary feels less consequential this elections season than it did in 2008 when 29.2 percent of voters came out to decide a tight race between then Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. In 2012, primary turnout was only at 8.8 percent by the time the election calendar reached New Jersey because Mitt Romney had already clinched the nomination, similar to Donald Trump’s situation this year. The majority of Bayonne voters are registered Democrats, and city government seats are most often occupied by Democrats. If the last election is any indicator of who will win this year’s general election, Barack Obama won 31,441 Hudson County votes compared to Mitt Romney’s 3,529, which shows that unless the majority of Democratic voters switch over, the race is Hillary Clinton’s to lose, at least in Bayonne.
The primary election will be held Tuesday, June 7. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Residents can find their local polling location by using a tool on the Hudson County voting information web page: http://www.hudsoncountynj.org/voting-information/. All voting data was sourced from the Hudson County Clerk and the New Jersey Division of Elections.
Rory Pasquariello may be reached at email@example.com.