Why Corzine lost

The post-mortems are in, and the consensus among reporters is that Gov. Corzine lost for three big reasons:

- he failed to ease the property tax burden and repair state finances, two of the key promises of his 2005 campaign

- he never mastered politics, standing aloof from the political players he needed to help move his agenda, backing off of too many fights and failing to connect with the public he was leading

- he was hit with an economic storm that made all his inherent problems worse.

Here are some takes. Tom Moran of the Star-Ledger says it was a "pointed personal loss" for Corzine, who he described as the state's "unabashed liberal leader."

"He promised to ease the burden of property taxes and failed. He promised to use his Wall Street savvy to fix the state’s ever-broken finances, and he failed again," Moran wrote.

The Record's Charlie Stile writes that "For all his smarts, ambition and, of course, his money . . . Corzine never mastered the art of politics." He says the governor didn't learn he had to promote his own ideas, failed to take care of image problems and was stubbornly attached even to "politically radioactive" ideas.

Ross Baker, a Rutgers political scientist, told David Kocieniewski of The New York Times that Corzine was too timid to see his visions through. Kocieniewski writes that Corzine's "inability to stare down the state’s free-spending Legislature and its public employee unions doomed his efforts to straighten out New Jersey’s troubled finances."

My story took a look at how economic issues -- taxes, the recession, Corzine's ill-fated attempt to deal with state debt -- cost the governor who was sold as having economic expertise.

Those stories examined the four year arc of Corzine's time in Trenton. The particulars of Election Day came down to two big story lines: motivated Republicans turned out huge for Christie, while unenthusiastic Democrats delivered diminished margins in their party's strong holds.

We look at how the GOP-heavy Shore counties gave Christie a massive boost. The Star-Ledger examined the low turn out in Democratic bastions.

The most thorough vote break-down I have seen comes from Patrick Murray of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. On his blog, Murray takes a look at region-by-region results. His biggest conclusions: turnout was down overall, but way up among Republicans in Ocean and Monmouth counties, and down in key Democratic counties, Hudson and Essex. And that Middlesex, which swung from a 17.6 point Corzine win in 2005 to a 2.7 point loss this year, may be the state's new bellwether.


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