New Jersey 3rd District
The Pine Barrens of New Jersey is one of the last vacant spots on the eastern seaboard—not quite terra incognita, but still not thickly populated. Encroached upon by the Philadelphia suburbs of South Jersey on the west and burgeoning retirement developments of the Jersey Shore on the east, the 1 million acres of heavy forest and white sand, with their unusual plant life, are crossed mostly by narrow two-lane roads. There are only a few small towns here, plus Fort Dix and McGuire Air Force Base. For years, the Pine Barrens was seen as a barrier to development. Only recently have environment-minded Jerseyites come to see the relatively unspoiled area as a natural treasure.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 3rd Congressional District of New Jersey spans the Pine Barrens and thousands of acres of farmland. It includes large parts of Burlington and Ocean Counties and Cherry Hill in Camden County. Most of its residents live in the South Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia; in spread-out Cherry Hill, with its 1960s-vintage shopping centers; in the older towns along the Delaware River or in the newer developments inland toward McGuire. This is comfortable, but not affluent, suburban territory. Lockheed Martin in Moorestown is a big employer, with its naval electronics and surveillance-system plant. It is the birthplace of the Aegis radar. Politically, it is competitive territory, with big Democratic margins in Willingboro and Cherry Hill.
East of the Pine Barrens is Ocean County, including the barrier islands from Normandy Beach south to Little Egg Harbor, with older communities on the beachfront and larger clusters of new subdivisions and condominiums inland. Ocean County has been the fastest-growing part of New Jersey, a kind of Frost Belt Florida, with many retirees from New York and North Jersey eager to leave urban crime and high taxes. While Ocean County is Republican, the district as a whole is closely divided. It voted 54%-43% for Democrat Al Gore in 2000, but 51%-49% for President George W. Bush in 2004. In 2008, the pendulum swung back to the Democrats, with nominee Barack Obama winning 52% to Republican John McCain’s 47%.