Category: NJ District 10

NJ-10: Donald Payne Jr.

Link to full presentation:

This slide outlines the 2008-2018 election results for New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District. This features Donald M. Payne, who was the member of Congress from 1989 until he passed away in 2012, and his son Donald Payne Jr. who became his successor in 2012. In 2008 and 2010, Payne won the Congressional District race with 98.9% and 85.2% of the vote, respectively. From 2012 to 2018, Donald Payne Jr. won the election consistently receiving between 85% and 87% of the vote, a similar margin of victory to that of his father in 2010. This congressional district has historically been a predominantly blue region in New Jersey, and the election results illustrate landslide victories from both Payne and Payne Jr. that demonstrate the overwhelming Democratic support. This statistic can be reinforced by the fact that this Congressional District also has a majority Black/African-American population of over 50%, and African-Americans in general have been closely linked to the Democratic party.

Slide 2 examines research discussing the effects of electorate context and district population demographics on voting towards certain types of immigration policies. In their study titled, “Partisanship or Population? House and Senate immigration votes in the 109th and 110th Congresses”, Jason Casellas and David Leal analyze the presence of certain causal mechanisms that may explain voting patterns on immigration policies. Casellas and Leal examined congressional voting on a variety of immigration bills, including restrictive and comprehensive bills. While competition between African-Americans and Latinos is theorized as a factor that can influence immigration-related policymaking, the authors concluded that there was no real evidence of economic competition existing between African-Americans and Latino, and it had no significant impact on voting decisions for immigration policy (Casellas, 2013).

As a continuation from slide 2, this slide discusses the significance of Casellas’ study with regards to New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District. With a racial makeup of 52.7% of the population being African-American and 17.6% being Hispanic, this Congressional District can be examined as an example of the theory suggesting competition and tension between these two racial groups. However, following the Casellas study it can be predicted that these demographic makeup will not have an influence on whether immigration policy voting will be more restrictive or more comprehensive. I think that while the Casellas and Leal study provides evidence for the insignificance of certain demographic factors like racial competition, I think that it is worth examining the potential cultural tension that might exist in the specific region of New Jersey’s 10th Congressional District, which includes major cities such as Newark and Orange. This district has a 30% foreign-born population, half of which come from Latin America. With a strong Latino immigrant presence existing alongside a strong native African-American presence, the measure of how much influence these possible tensions might have can be put into question.

The last slide examines Donald Payne Jr.’s records of bill sponsorship and cosponsorship, in addition to his voting record on bills. While Payne Jr. has either sponsored or cosponsored 1,369 bills, only 34 of these bills were related to immigration. Payne has additionally voted on 2 immigration-related policies, voting in support of more funding directly tied to the Department of Homeland Security, of which he is a House committee member. Payne Jr.’s website illustrates the types of policies and issues he focuses on, and immigration not being an issue highlighted on his website supports how it isn’t viewed as a priority issue in the NJ-10 Congressional District, despite a higher foreign-born population compared to the New Jersey average. Payne Jr.’s tweet history also correlates with patterns of quietness regarding immigration, and only 3 of his 74 tweets since January include any mention of immigration or immigration-related issues.

NJ 10 – Mikie Sherrill

Here is a link to my full presentation:

Slide 1: Election Results for NJ – 11

From 1995 to 2018, New Jersey’s 11th Congressional district was represented by Rodney Frelinghuysen, a moderate Republican who also served as chairman of the House Appropriations committee before retiring in 2018. Interestingly, two of his lowest vote totals and margins of victory over the last ten years occurred in the same years as the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, which Democratic candidates won. In 2008 Frelinghuysen won with a 24.8% margin, and in 2012 he garnered an 18.8% margin. In the 2018 elections, Mikie Sherrill won with a 14.7% margin of victory over her opponent Jay Webber. Taxes, healthcare, and gun control reform were major issues for her during the campaign. Sherrill also had strong showings leading up to the election and at the county level. She won the Democratic primaries for NJ – 11 with 77.5% of the vote and won the majority of the votes in 3 of 4 counties falling within the district’s borders (Morris, Essex, and Passaic).


Partisanship, personal background, and a district’s political climate impact the types of policies representatives are willing to support. In their paper, Casellas and Leal argue that polarization caused partisanship is a strong predictor of votes: the Democratic Party became more liberal and the Republican party became more conservative during the last two decades. They also argue that foreign-born populations are related to support for permissive policies. Wong finds a racial rift within the Democratic party, as white Democrats were more likely to vote against such policies than minority Democrats. He also finds that the distance of a state relative to the South is inversely related to the chances of the representative supporting restrictionist policies. This may happen because any negative effects of illegal immigration would be felt more strongly in these states, which are closer to the border. Casellas and Leal also found that newly elected representatives were more likely to vote “yes” on enforcement bills regardless of party affiliation, since voting “no” could be used against them by their conservative constituents. Lastly, Wong’s median voter theorem predicts that candidates in districts that are evenly split across party lines will be most successful by campaigning for centrist or moderate immigration policies.

I predict that Mikie Sherrill will take a moderate stance on immigration policies by supporting a mix of permissive and restrictionist policies. She is a Democrat, and Casella and Leal’s analysis found partisanship to be significant across all four of their models. Her supporters expressed disillusionment with Frelinghuysen, which suggests that mirroring his views on immigration – which reflected Trump’s views on the subject – would alienate her from NJ -11’s Democratic voters. Her district is located in a state relatively far north, meaning that immigration is not as polarizing of an issue as it is for border states. When Sherrill supports permissive policies, she may not upset as many of her Republican constituents. However, the median voter theorem suggests Sherrill’s election results will cause her to support some restrictionist policies as well in order to balance the interests of and remain favorable among her supporters and the sizable Republican voter base in NJ – 11. Her opponent Jay Webber had secured 42.1% of the votes, meaning a little less than half of the population voted Republican and most likely has conservative views on immigration.

Mikie Sherrill’s online and political presence indicate mixed attitudes on immigration. Her website lists issues such as the economy, veterans, and healthcare, but is mainly devoid of immigration-related content. In two tweets from 2019 (out of 60 total) she expresses her frustrations over the government shutdown’s negative effects on efficient policymaking and people’s economic conditions. In the single immigration-related tweet of her campaign, Sherrill uses the impracticality of a border wall as a lead-in to make a point about the Gateway Tunnel. This is important to NJ -11 because the Trump administration had refused to provide federal funding for its estimated $11-billion budget. The tunnel would expand the currently overcrowded and old tunnel system that links Newark to Manhattan, which many NJ-11 residents rely on for their daily train commutes to work. In support of partisanship being a strong predictor of viewpoints on immigration, she stated abolishing DACA was wrong because it tore children from their families and created a loss of job growth in New Jersey. However, Mikie Sherrill’s support of ICE, expanding CBP, and upgrading the current border wall demonstrate her support for restrictionist policies. Despite her low activity on immigration policymaking, Sherrill believes in the importance of immigration reform for her constituents regardless of their citizenship.

© Copyright 2020 The Trustees of Princeton University
The McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning resides within the Office of the Dean of the College