Incumbent lawmakers winning in NJ legislature races

Democrats were on pace to retain control of both houses of the New Jersey Legislature, though Republicans could make small gains in a handful of races that remained too close to call Tuesday night.

Voters returned most incumbents to their seats in the Senate and Assembly. But Gov. Chris Christie's dominant re-election win over Democratic challenger Barbara Buono did not appear to reach the Democrat-led Legislature.

In the Senate, Democrats were re-elected to 22 seats and Republicans to 16, with two seats held by Democrats undecided. Those are in districts 14 and 38, where Gov. Chris Christie made commercials and taped phone messages on behalf of the Republican challengers in the final days of the race.

In the Assembly, Democrats had secured 44 seats and Republicans 30, with six races not called. Of the seats in question, four are currently held by Democrats.

Legislative districts have been drawn to favor incumbents of both parties. But Christie's big lead over Buono in polls before Election Day had Democrats more worried than usual.

Democrats controlled the Senate 24-16 and the Assembly 48-32, with all 120 seats up for grabs.

Christie, who hasn't counted out a run for president, produced a television commercial for Peter Inverso, running against incumbent Linda Greenstein in the 14th District. He has also poured resources into David Stahl vs. Peter Barnes III in the 18th District, a race Barnes won, and Fernando Alonso, running against Sen. Bob Gordon in District 38.

Christie, who had 60 percent of the vote to Buono's 38 percent with 99 percent of precincts reporting, was re-elected with broad support, including 70 percent of whites, 61 percent of moderates, 66 percent of independents, and 61 percent of voters older than 30. Even though he lost among those younger than 30, they supported the governor by 13 percentage points more than in 2009.

He saw other double-digit increases in support from his election in 2009 from Democrats (an increase of 24 points), liberals (22 points), Hispanics (19 points), those without college degrees (14 points), suburban residents (14 points), those with household incomes of under $100,000 (13 points) and blacks (12 points).