Let’s Keep Focus on “The Line” in NJ Politics

December 23, 2023

The debate over “The Line” has long raged in NJ with political insiders defending “The Line” and gatecrashers decrying the practice as undemocratic. I happen to think The Line corrupts the democratic process in NJ. But that’s just me. 

Whenever a debate about The Line and New Jersey’s ballot design breaks out, my thoughts go back to 2008 when former Congressman Rob Andrew launchd a primary election campaign to unseat incumbent US Senator Frank Lautenberg.

If you’re not in-the-know, The Line is where you want to be on the ballot if you’re running for office in New Jersey. Candidates granted The Line by NJ’s political gatekeepers are almost assured of victory, especially in a primary election. That’s why NJ’s powerful political machines invest so much time and treasure into determining who gets the line and (perhaps more importantly) who doesn’t.


We’ll give the final word to Dr. Julia Sass Rubin, associate professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy where she also directs the Public Policy Program.

Dr. Rubin’s voluminous academic research of The Line (and its consequences) make her NJ’s most credible voice on the topic.

“I found that a candidate did an average of 35 percentage points better when they were on the county line than when their opponent was on the county line,” Dr. Rubin told NJ Spotlight News. “In analyzing 20 years of U.S. House and Senate elections, I found that this average was 38 percentage points.”

InsiderNJ.com, December 22, 2023

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