SOMERSET HILLS, NJ - The polls opened this morning at 6 a.m. in New Jersey. TAP into Somerset Hills expects a low voter turnout, somewhere between 35 and 40 percent as voters in the area vote in local elections. Turnout in the Somerset Hills should be somewhat higher than turnout in Somerset County and in the state, if TAP's projections prove true.
The 2015 election is a low point in the turnout cycle. Turnout is determined by many factors. The most important factor is the top of the ticket. Turnout is highest when a Presidential election is at the top of the ticket. Voter turnout is lowest when the state legislative offices are at the top of the ticket.
Today, the Assembly races are at the top of the ticket. The four towns covered by TAP are divided into three separate legislative districts, the 21st, 23rd and the 25th. All three districts are heavily Republican. The assembly campaigns have been very quiet, so those races are not expected to drive extra turnout.
Turnout is also influenced by contested local races. Sometimes, there is a "reverse coattail" effect. When there is a hot local race, more voters will turnout. In the Somerset Hills, there are three contested races. The only town without a contested race for local office is Far Hills. In addition, there is one race for a seat on the Somerset Hills School District.
Based on the comparable years of 2007 and 2011, TAP can project that the Somerset Hills will enjoy a larger average turnout than Somerset County as a whole. It is likely that turnout in Bedminster, Bernardsville and Peapack-Gladstone will be between 35 and 40 percent of registered voters.