40,003 reasons Vin Gopal beat Jennifer Beck

Senator-elect Vin Gopal and Tinton Falls Mayor Gerald Turning. photo via facebook, posted Oct 9

By Art Gallagher

Jennifer Beck had an internal poll showing her leading Vin Gopal by 17% in September.  Gopal had a poll showing him losing to Beck by 6% in mid October. Another Gopal poll showed him winning by 1% last week.  Beck said last week that she thought it was a 3% race. So how did Gopal pull off a 7% victory on Tuesday night?

Gopal’s campaign knocked on 40,000 doors in Asbury Park, Eatontown, Long Branch, Ocean Township and Tinton Falls, according to a veteran Democrat operative who participated in the effort.

The Senator-elect had a fresh and energetic army of volunteers and paid canvassers join his committed troops in the field on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Beck’s campaign closed with a Hail Mary pass and a fire drill.

Gopal’s strong and energetic GOTV finish explains his convincing margin of victory.  It doesn’t explain how the Beck campaign went from high fives when they learned Gopal was their opponent in January , to a 17% lead in mid September, to a 6% lead in mid October, to a close race the week before the election.

In January, Beck celebrated Gopal’s candidacy by calling him a young man with no accomplishments who was the hand picked candidate of the Camden County Democrats:

“I’m unsurprised by Mr. Gopal’s hyper-negative statement announcing his candidacy, given he has no accomplishments of his own to stand on. After two unsuccessful attempts at holding public office before he even turned 30, it is no wonder that Vin has decided that the only path to victory is to try and discredit his opponent rather than speaking about his accomplishments. I will be running this campaign as I always have – on my record of being an independent, thoughtful voice for Monmouth County’s residents.”

Then Beck let Gopal spend 11 months defining himself as a successful small business owner who knows what it like to struggle. She let him define himself as a volunteer first responder and a generous fund raiser for charities who was endorsed by 100’s of small business owners and 100’s of Republicans.

Beck attempted to define Gopal as “Camden County Vin.” Most voters don’t know what that means and don’t think it sounds so bad.  In Monmouth County, only Eagles fans know what Camden looks like.

Gopal successfully defined Beck as an unprincipled Christie ally who is out of touch with the people of the district. Nothing could be further from the truth, but Gopal kept selling it and enough voters to matter kept buying it.  Gopal put Beck on defense and she played his game.

Gopal led the Monmouth Democrat Party for four years.  During those four years he heavily outspent the Monmouth GOP and consistently lost. Yet Beck rejected the very willing strategic, tactical and operational support of GOP Chairman Shaun Golden and Co-Chair Christine Giordano Hanlon and their team. Beck controlled her own campaign too tightly. She dominated the campaigns of her running mates.  She rejected the advice and willing support from the people who know how to beat Gopal and have done so for four years.

Vin Gopal beat Jennifer Beck by 7% on Tuesday night because his campaign knocked on 40,000 doors on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

But the campaign was close enough to win in the final days because Beck would not have the people who know Gopal’s weaknesses and how to beat him do what they love to do.

Beck also failed to coordinate or cooperate fully with the Guadagno campaign.

Beck’s April and September internal polls showed generic a Republican losing badly to generic a Democrat badly in the 11th district, yet she was leading Gopal by 17%.  She should have tested another Republican name from the district against Gopal before concluding that she was the only Republican who could win in the district. It would have been instructive to see how Freeholder Tom Arnone or Hanlon tested against Gopal. My guess is that either Arnone or Hanlon would have tested well against Gopal.

The September poll also showed Phil Murphy out polling Kim Guadagno in the district; 39%-33% with 23% undecided.  This was a significant improvement for Guadagno from an early April poll performed for the Beck campaign. In April, Murphy was leading in the district 41%-29%, according to Beck’s poll.

Yet, despite Guadagno’s surge in the district, Beck did not coordinate or cooperate with the GOP gubernatorial campaign down the stretch.

In the end, Guadagno outperformed Beck in the district.  Guadagno got 28,557 votes in the district to Beck’s 27,027.  Murphy only won 50.5% of the vote in the 11th with 30,414 votes  Guadagno got 47.5% and 2% voted for someone else.   Gopal won with 53.43% with 31,047 votes to Beck’s 46.51%.

Beck outperformed the Monmouth County Freeholder candidates, Freeholder Director Lillian Burry and Freeholder-elect Patrick Impreveduto in the 11th.  The GOP freeholder candidates averaged 45% of the vote in the 11th compared to the Dems 54%.  On a percentage basis, the Dem freeholder candidates outperformed Gopal and Murphy in the district.  But Monmouth is a big county.  Burry and Impreveduto won countywide 52.1% to 47.8%.

We’ll never know how an LD 11 campaign coordinated with the Monmouth GOP and the Guadagno campaign would have worked out.   We do know that Beck ran as a lone ranger and that didn’t work out.

I would have liked to see Beck define Gopal as she started to in January….as an unaccomplished young man with a history of nasty, dishonest campaigns and an embellished resume. It would not have been a hard sell. We’ll never know how that campaign, with Gopal playing defense, would have worked out.

Gopal ran a superior campaign to the Beck’s.  Now he is a Senator-elect, a successful small businessman who knows what it is like to go without a paycheck, a volunteer first responder and a generous philanthropist with the same mission he has always had… to turn Monmouth County blue.

Posted: November 9th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: 11th Legislative District, 2017 Elections, Jennifer Beck, Monmouth County News, New Jersey, Vin Gopal | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

10 Comments on “40,003 reasons Vin Gopal beat Jennifer Beck”

  1. MLynch said at 2:26 pm on November 9th, 2017:

    I have lived about 5 houses away from her for 20 years I think I have seen her 4x. She has no idea who her neighbors are in Red Bank.
    Not sure she even lives there any more.

  2. Bull Halsey said at 2:55 pm on November 9th, 2017:

    “Beck attempted to define Gopal as ‘Camden County Vin.’ Most voters don’t know what that means and don’t think it sounds so bad.”

    This can’t be overstated. Vin did the ground work and connected with the people of 11 on a personal level. Jen took her incumbency for granted and never ventured out of her own bubble. The same complacency that struck Assemblywomen Angelini and Casagrande in 2015 impacted Jen in 2017. The Trump/Christie effect didn’t help, but she let Vin get away with framing his own narrative and not challenging it in a familiar way. The amount of people in 11 who know or care who George Norcross is probably amounts to about 3-5%.

  3. Tom Stokes said at 4:30 pm on November 9th, 2017:

    Simply put, it’s called “Back to Basics” for any campaign. GOTV starts with VBM, Telephone calls, door to door, workers at train and bus stops all through Election Day.

    Do it, you win. Don’t do it, you lose.

  4. Steve Adams said at 6:07 pm on November 9th, 2017:

    This proves “politicians” can use politics to win elections.
    Its a shame the skills needed after the election to be a “public servant” are very different, and Gopal has not demonstrated those.

  5. Tom said at 8:28 pm on November 9th, 2017:

    Well said Art. Dont know how she let him get that much momentum. I feel bad for Accerra & Whelan. The regular mom and neighbor probably didn’t even know they existed. My first introduction to them sadly was on face book . I saw gopal for months on face book,then I saw Whelan. Felt like there where running against each other . Where was she on there? I guess it worked out for vin. Sad electionday for me ill tell you that much

  6. This former Camden County resident said at 8:42 pm on November 9th, 2017:

    and now Monmouth County resident sees Vin the Pin’s win as a very bad sign.

    We have to band together and combat this threat from King George, otherwise more money will be wheeled into Monmouth.

  7. Lenny Bloch said at 11:51 pm on November 9th, 2017:

    Don’t underestimate the efforts of Tinton Falls Matters in this election. Beck consistently ignored TF to protect the interests of Colts Neck, learning nothing from the ouster of Casagrande and Angelini.

    Gopal, Houghtaling, and Downey showed understanding, concern, and action while Beck continued to play partisan games the entire way.

    We wish her well in her future endeavors.

  8. Elephant in the room said at 8:10 am on November 10th, 2017:

    Am I the only one that sees this article as a CYA piece for Shaun Golden? Sure Beck lost, and OK, it’s all her fault but what about the rest of LD11? 2nd loss in a row. No GOP victory in Neptune City, and can the Freeholder elections get a little closer? The gap is shrinking. Christy did destroy our party but LD30 Singer did great, then again he worked out of Ocean County. Howell is slowly turning blue starting with the Mayor. Maybe if we allow Shaun another 4 years as GOP chair he can turn the entire county blue with his establishment candidates and “Don’t blame me, I’m just in charge” attitude.

  9. There is said at 10:23 am on November 10th, 2017:

    lots of blame to go around. I have been saying for years, that we need to have the locals in every town get the certificates of occupancy, as to who is moving in, then go register/ re- register them. People to people contact does more than just smiling faces on Facebook. We need much more ongoing local club activity, not just a rushed campaign, the last few weeks before an election. We need to remember why we think the Rep philosophy of governing is better. There needs to be more ongoing outreach and communication with the locals- every town is different, and counts. We used to be all- Rep at the Shore, now, we have majority Dems in most of them. We can’t always count on our 4 or 5 “good” towns, to make up for losses in many small ones. It is true that more Dems keep moving here for our better life- but,they keep voting the Dem line that destroyed where they came from, in the first place. The main problem is, the leaders have big jobs that come first- there needs to be more people who care enough, and are able to devote more time, all year long- it takes a ton of time and effort that some just don’t have. The sad truth is, the Dems are squeezing much more money out from unions and rich bosses, to throw negative campaigns, at whatever level/ race they decide to. Without much more organization, communication, and coordination each year, we could wind up going blue, in just a couple of years. And, here, we are quite lucky Freeholder Burry decided to run this year again, we may well have lost the county, with two brand-new names! Incumbents who are proven leaders and vote/ getters should not all be dumped! Lesson learned: especially not on the higher- turnout years: presidential and gubernatorial.

  10. David said at 9:23 pm on November 14th, 2017:

    I have written to her office and I don’t think she has ever responded. I voted for her because I didn’t want to vote for an NJEA candidate but not answering people isn’t exactly the way to get votes. Gopal spent a tremendous amount of money. But if you take the time to meet people, it can help and it helped Gopal.