New Jersey 5th District
The northern edge of New Jersey was settled three centuries ago by the Dutch, for whom this plateau of land behind the Hudson River Palisades seemed a natural part of Nieuw Amsterdam. The Dutch influence is seen in old, steep-roofed farmhouses and in many of the place names—Bergen County, Cresskill, Closter. And some “Dutchness” remains in local communities. But overall, northernmost New Jersey has the well-settled look of so many northeastern suburbs, with touches of both affluence and small-town hominess, criss-crossed at its edges with limited-access highways and shopping centers. In the late 1950s, Paramus was transformed from celery farms to the site of two of the nation’s first large shopping malls—and constant traffic jams. Not far away are Saddle River and Franklin Lakes, with million-dollar houses on multi-acre lots, and Park Ridge, with office buildings and condominiums. This area may look like WASP suburbia on the surface, but in fact it is home to successful people of all ethnic groups, many of them descended from those who first saw the Statue of Liberty from steerage and passed through the inspection queues at Ellis Island. A curiosity: Asian women in Bergen County have the nation’s longest life expectancy, 91 years.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
The 5th Congressional District of New Jersey comprises most of northern Bergen County, plus a swath of North Jersey stretching west to the hill-enclosed upper reaches of the Delaware River, crossing one ridge of mountains after another, and then running south to Interstate 78. About 60% of its population is in Bergen County. To the west, little subdivisions set amid the lakes of western Passaic County are filling up with young families. Farther west are once rural, now more or less suburban Sussex and Warren counties. In 2008, the recession took a toll on many of these suburban enclaves as foreclosures and a large inventory of unsold homes sent property values plummeting. Politically, this area has long been solidly Republican, although as with the rest of New Jersey, it has moved toward the Democrats since the 1990s. In 2004, Republican George W. Bush won the district 57%-43%, his second-best showing in the state. In 2008, Democratic nominee Barack Obama lost it 54%-46%.