New York liberals — and independent voters — appear to be changing the political landscape of the Jersey ‘burbs. Republican strongholds in towns like Millburn, Westfield, Summit and
Madison are eroding as Democrats find themselves winning Council seats and
even mayoral races. An influx of young families looking for luxury homes is the driving force behing the shift, academics and realtors tell today’s Star Ledger :
The towns experiencing the shift are similar. They’re old-money communities on commuter rail lines, each offering a pleasant blend of downtown shopping, historic homes and shade-tree neighborhoods. Until recently, they’ve also been some of the most reliable bastions of Republican votes in the state. Ten years ago, the four towns boasted only a single Democratic official among them. But an influx of liberal-leaning New Yorkers seems to be changing the politics of these GOP strongholds.
Joseph Marbach, chairman of Seton Hall University’s political science department, said the shift is indicative of a larger state trend that can also be seen in some of South Jersey’s well-to-do Philadelphia suburbs. He said successful young professionals are pouring in from the cities, bringing their liberal values and “middle-class conscience” with them. “They’re pretty well off, so they can afford property taxes and they don’t necessarily need a lot of services from government,” Marbach said. “But they’re also willing to take care of the poor; they have that middle-class conscience. So those folks are going to line up with the Democrats on a lot of those social issues.”