Good Wednesday morning!
The team at Jewish Insider will continue to bring you election updates throughout the day on our website and Twitter feed. Check out our interactive elections map to see House and Senate race results.
On Monday afternoon, The Intercept wrote that “if unapologetically progressive candidates like Kara Eastman, Dana Balter, Mike Siegel and Julie Oliver” win their races then “moderates would lose the most persuasive argument they have to oppose the party on key pieces of legislation, whether it’s immigration, climate, health care, wages, or economic stimulus: They’d love to support it, but the voters back home just won’t go for it, and without moderates winning reelection, Democrats can’t keep the majority.”
Eastman, Balter, Siegel and Oliver all lost last night, and in South Florida, Democratic strategists blamed campaign attacks that labeled the Democratic party as “socialist” for their losses. “The Squad” did gain a few members last night who didn’t face competitive general elections, including Cori Bush in Missouri, Marie Newman in Illinois and Mondaire Jones and Jamaal Bowman in New York. How the Democratic Party approaches its left flank is likely to remain a hot topic in the coming days.
With Democratic Senate hopefuls Al Gross in Alaska, Jon Ossoff in Georgia and Cal Cunningham in North Carolina all appearing to fall short — and incumbent Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) trailing Republican John James — Democratic plans to flip the Senate appear increasingly out of reach, potentially dashing the hopes of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to become the next Senate majority leader. More below.
Several Democratic candidates who outraised and outspent their opponents — including Sen. Doug Jones in Alabama, Jaime Harrison in South Carolina and Amy McGrath in Kentucky, who collectively raised more than $226 million to their opponents’ combined $139 million — fell short, returning a focus to the question of the changing nature of money in politics.
Spread the word! Invite your friends to sign up and earn JI swag through our Ambassador program
Presidential race up in the air with several swing states in play
President Donald Trump prematurely declared victory without basis and threatened legal action in the early hours of Wednesday morning as results continue to trickle in from key battleground states, with paths remaining for either Trump or Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to win the Electoral College.
Electoral math: After winning the state of Florida with a comfortable margin, and keeping Texas and Ohio — while losing Arizona — the Trump campaign is holding out hope that winning Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin will grant him a second term in the White House. With 75% reporting in Pennsylvania, the president led Biden 55-43%. With mail-in votes and absentee ballots — which are predicted to skew Democratic — yet to be counted, Trump cannot afford to lose the Keystone State in his quest for 270 electoral votes. The president vowed he would “be going to the U.S. Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop.”
Holding on: Shortly before 1 a.m. ET, Biden addressed his supporters in Wilmington, Delaware, and insisted that he is still on track to win the election once all votes are counted. The Biden campaign called Trump’s remarks “outrageous” and labeled them as “a naked effort to take away the democratic rights of American citizens.” Biden is hoping to erase Trump’s lead in North Carolina or Georgia and pick up Pennsylvania once all the votes are counted.
Expecting the unexpected: Stu Loeser, a longtime political consultant in New York, told Jewish Insider’s Jacob Kornbluh that Trump’s better-than-expected performance on election night is an indication that “a lot of Americans hate the people who hate Trump, and hate the people Trump hates. And it shows, for the 700 millionth time, that social media, and Twitter, in particular, is not the real world.” Loeser expressed hope that Biden would pull ahead once all votes are counted, “and a win is a win.”
How Trump won Florida: Trump’s unrelenting effort this election cycle to cast Biden as a socialist appears to have paid off in the crucial swing state of Florida. Pivotal to Trump’s victory was strong support from Latino voters in South Florida’s Miami-Dade County, which includes a sizable population of Cuban-Americans who are sensitive to accusations of socialism because of their historical antagonism to Fidel Castro’s communist regime. “I believe the steady messaging around socialism is one of the primary reasons why Democrats did so poorly in Miami-Dade,” Justin Day, a Democratic strategist in Florida, told Jewish Insider’s Matthew Kassel in an email. Former Rep. Ron Klein (D-FL), who chairs the Jewish Democratic Council of America, told JI, “It seems like the Biden campaign didn’t push back hard enough.” Read more here.
Jewish vote: Trump’s victory in Florida was also reflected in the share of the vote from Jewish voters in the Sunshine State. According to early results from an Associated Press exit poll, Trump garnered support from 41% of Jewish voters in Florida, while Biden received 58%. In Pennsylvania, Jewish voters backed Biden 73% to Trump’s 23%. And in New York, Biden led Trump 69-31%. Nationally, according to the AP exit poll, Biden got the backing of 72% of American Jews, while Trump got 27%, slightly higher than the 24% he received in 2016. A Republican Jewish Coalition exit poll — expected to be released later today — shows Trump matching Mitt Romney’s 2012 rate — 30.5% — with Biden at 60.6% of the vote. An election night exit poll conducted for J Street by GBAO Strategies showed Biden leading Trump 77%-21%, overperforming Hillary Clinton’s share of the vote in 2016.
Dems appear unlikely to gain control of the Senate
Democrats appear to have fallen short of the blowout Senate majority predicted by polls and politicos, losing a number of races they had hoped would grant them a majority in the upper chamber — with control still undecided.
In Georgia, Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) led Jon Ossoff as of Wednesday morning, while the state’s special election is headed for a January runoff that will see Pastor Raphael Warnock face off against Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA).
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock fell short in his challenge to Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT).
Big spender: Two of the most expensive Senate races — the Graham/Harrison matchup and Democrat Amy McGrath’s challenge to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) — both ended with victories for the Republican incumbents. McGrath and Harrison collectively raised more than $200 million for their failed Senate bids.
Experts weigh in: “After all the effort, after all the money that has been spent — I mean, an insane amount of money has been spent on so many different aspects of this election,” Republican strategist Noam Neusner, a former speechwriter and Jewish liaison for President George W. Bush, told JI. “If the Democrats walk away with not a single meaningful change, there’s going to be hell to pay, as there should be.” Stu Loeser, a former communications director for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), maintained that “for 85% of this election cycle,” Democrats didn’t expect to regain control of the Senate until at least 2022.
Two pickups for Dems: Former astronaut Mark Kelly beat Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) and will finish out the duration of the late Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) term. Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who jumped into the race after ending his short presidential run, beat incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), flipping the seat blue after a rocky primary campaign.
Still to come: In Maine, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) claimed victory over Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, though the race had not been officially called as of Wednesday morning. Ballots in North Carolina and Michigan were still being counted, leaving those Senate races uncalled. In Alaska, Al Gross trails Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) by a significant margin.
Not going anywhere: Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) coasted to a third term in Virginia’s Senate race — unlike his 2014 reelection bid, when he won by less than one percentage point. In Texas, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) handily fended off a challenge from MJ Hegar.
Race in the Rockies: In Wyoming, Israeli-born university professor and Democrat Merav Ben-David lost her longshot bid against Republican Cynthia Lummis to represent the state.
Bonus: Julia Coleman — the daughter-in-law of former Sen. Norm Coleman — appears to have won her race for the Minnesota state Senate. In upstate New York, state Senate candidate Michelle Hinchey trails by 8,000 votes, with thousands of ballots yet to be counted.
Several freshman Dems unseated as Republicans flip seats back
While Democrats appear poised to retain their House majority, Republicans seem to have picked up a number of seats, including in districts that flipped from red to blue in 2018.
Paying off: For Democrats, Biden’s loss in Florida was exacerbated by gains made by Republicans in two South Florida districts. The losses by Reps. Donna Shalala (D-FL) and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL) were attributed by Florida Democratic operatives to effective Republican efforts to tie mainstream Democrats to far-left elements within the party.
Flipping back: Democrats overall did not fare as well as predicted, losing a number of 2018 pick-ups around the country in addition to the two South Florida seats: In South Carolina, Nancy Mace beat Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC); in New Mexico, Yvette Herrell bested Rep. Xochitl Torres Small; Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK) lost Oklahoma’s only blue seat to Stephanie Bice; and in Iowa, Rep. Abby Finkenauer appears to have lost to Ashley Hinson.
Fight to the end: In New York City’s most competitive district, freshman Rep. Max Rose (D-NY) was trailing Republican Nicole Malliotakis by 15 points as of Wednesday morning. While Malliotakis declared victory, Rose refused to concede, and said he is waiting for mail-in ballots to be counted.
Too close to call: In New Jersey’s 2nd district, Democrat-turned-Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ) is narrowly leading Democrat Amy Kennedy, and in New York’s 1st, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) — one of two Jewish Republicans in the House — is ahead of Democrat Nancy Goroff by 22 points.
Better luck the third time: The second time wasn’t the charm for several progressive candidates hoping to come out on top in their respective rematches. Bernie Sanders-backed Kara Eastman lost to Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) in Nebraska’s 2nd district; Dana Balter, who had the support of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, fell short in her second attempt to unseat Rep. John Katko (R-NY) in upstate New York; and in Texas, Mike Siegel, who was also backed by Sanders, lost to Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX).
Rebound: But in Georgia’s 7th district, Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux appears likely to win — two years after she lost her race — narrowly beating out Republican Rich McCormick, whom she accused of trafficking in antisemitism during the campaign.
SoCal: In California, Sara Jacobs edged out fellow Democrat Georgette Gómez in the state’s 53rd congressional district. In the neighboring 50th, former Rep. Darrell Issa is leading Ammar Campa-Najjar in a race between two Arab-American candidates that centered around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in its final days. In the 45th, freshman Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) coasted to victory in her first reelection.
Headed to Washington: For a number of Democrats in solidly blue districts, the summer primaries were the main event. Primary victories for Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones in New York, Cori Bush in Missouri and Jake Auchincloss in Massachusetts all but guaranteed them seats in the next Congress long before last night.
Power of incumbency: In Florida’s 21st district, Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL) claimed a 25-point victory over far-right activist Laura Loomer. In Texas’s 2nd district, Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) easily fended off Democrat Sima Ladjevardian.
Tarheel turnout: Kathy Manning, the first woman to chair the board of the Jewish Federations of North America, has won the congressional race in North Carolina’s redrawn 6th district, beating Republican Joseph Lee Haywood. In the state’s 11th district, 25-year old Republican Madison Cawthorn became the youngest elected representative, handily defeating Democratic opponent Moe Davis. A spokesperson for Cawthorn — who has come under fire for previous controversial comments — told Jewish Insider on election night that “Madison is committed to meeting with leaders in the Jewish community within the first 100 days to best understand the needs of his constituents. Madison also pledges to not cosponsor legislation with members of Congress who are antisemitic.”
Repeal and replace: Controversial Rep. Steve King (R-IA) lost his June GOP primary to Randy Feenstra, who bested his Democratic opponent, J.D. Scholten, last night. While King may be gone, one incoming freshman legislator is certain to cause headaches for King’s GOP colleagues. Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Georgia congressional candidate whose embrace of the QAnon conspiracy theory movement has garnered the ire of a number of Jewish organizations, coasted to victory last night after her Democratic opponent dropped out of the race in September.
🛫 Heading Out: In The Washington Post, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux highlights those Americans leaving the country over political strife and a rise in hate, including Mira in Vancouver, Washington. “It felt like a warning to us, the Jewish people,” said Mira, who was targeted online by white supremacist groups. [WashPost]
🚶♀️ Wandering Jews: Amy Davidson Sorkin writes in The New Yorker about the millions of Jewish refugees who found few welcoming home countries after World War II, and how many were only eventually allowed to immigrate to Mandate Palestine. [NewYorker]
👬 Fond Friendship: Former President Bill Clinton writes in The Atlantic about former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, “the friend I loved,” on the 25th anniversary of his assassination. “He was a brave soldier, principled patriot, skilled strategist, and keen judge of character who understood how people thought and felt, and why they did what they did.” [TheAtlantic]
Around the Web
🗳️ Having Their Say: American voters living in Israel reportedly cast their absentee ballots in record numbers this year.
⚖️ Tribal Feud: Keren Hayesod is suing the World Zionist Organization, alleging that the WZO unlawfully removed Sam Grundwerg as Keren Hayesod chairman.
🚘 Run Out: Lebanon’s public prosecutor dismissed a lawsuit against former auto mogul Carlos Ghosn for visiting Israel — against Lebanese law — due to the statute of limitations.
🇲🇼 Road to Jerusalem: Malawi’s Foreign Minister Eisenhower Mkaka promised to open an embassy in Jerusalem by the end of 2021, during a meeting with his Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi, in Israel yesterday.
✈️ Taking Off: Budget Dubai-based airline flydubai said it will launch daily flights to Tel Aviv already this month.
👩🏾💼 Role Model: In Columbus, Ohio, Michal Avera Samuel, the Jewish community’s new shlicha — who is an Israeli of Ethiopian descent — is challenging stereotypes.
🤝 Time to Heal: Former neo-Nazi leader turned anti-extremism activist Christian Picciolini spoke to The Washington Post about his transformation and his newfound activism.
🤳 Blocked: Antisemitic conspiracy theorist and Holocaust denier David Icke has been permanently banned from Twitter for sharing COVID-19 misinformation.
🎼 Center Stage: The New York Times looks at the unlikely pairing of poet Archibald MacLeish and Bob Dylan, who collaborated on the short-lived Broadway show “Scratch.”
💰 Giving Back: Atlanta Hawks owner Tony Ressler and his wife, Jami Gertz, donated $5 million to support Black-owned businesses and other programs at Atlanta’s Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Song of the Day
Israeli pop duo Static and Ben-El have released a new English song, titled “Shake Ya Boom Boom,” featuring the Black Eyed Peas.
Israeli professional stock car racing driver, he is the first Israeli to compete in one of NASCAR’s top three touring series, Alon Day turns 29…
Former Israeli film director and actor who became a rabbi, Uri Zohar turns 85… Political scientist and author on military history and international relations, Edward Luttwak turns 78… Chair of the House Budget Committee (D-Kentucky-3), Kentucky’s first Jewish congressman, John Yarmuth turns 73… Former IDF paratrooper, he served as the IDF’s chief of the general staff (1998-2002), Minister of Defense (2002-2006) and member of Knesset for Kadima (2006-2015), Lieutenant General Shaul Mofaz turns 72… Professor of medicine at England’s University of Birmingham and a leading British authority on organ donation and transplantation, James M. Neuberger turns 71… Board member of Jewish Funders Network and a member of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency, Dorothy Tananbaum turns 69… UK politician who served as a Conservative party MP and cabinet minister, Richard Irwin Harrington turns 63…
Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Kenneth I. Gordon turns 61… President and CEO of the Hudson Institute, he was nominated earlier this year to be the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Ken Weinstein turns 59… Author, comedic actress and television host, her 2010 memoir, You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up, has been adapted into a play that has toured in 30 cities, Annabelle Gurwitch turns 59… Professor of philosophy at Texas A&M University, Claire Elise Katz turns 56… Israeli screenwriter and film director, Eran Kolirin turns 47… Partner at Paragon Strategic Insights, Jeremy Chwat turns 46… Media columnist for The New York Times, Ben Smith turns 44… Opinion columnist at The Washington Post, Catherine Rampell turns 36… White House special representative for international negotiations and a longtime senior aide to Jared Kushner, Avi Berkowitz turns 32… Recording artist, songwriter and entertainer known as Yoni Z, his YouTube channel has over 6.4 million views, Yoni Zigelboum turns 29… Founder of Boardified, an organization that assists Jewish non-profit organizations, Alicia Oberman… Executive director at the Texas Hillel Foundation, Maiya Chard-Yaron… Student at Columbia Law School, Mayer Stein…