Wind Election Report #3 With 80 Days to Go: An Update of the 2020 Election
A newsletter focusing on the 2020 election and American Jews
A 2020 Update: What We Are Seeing on the Ground
Uncertainty: Whether one is a supporter of the President or one of his sharpest critics, anxiety seems to be present across the political board. The latest point of contention involves the US Post Office and its ability to ensure the delivery of ballots in a timely fashion.
Will we know the outcome on Tuesday evening, November 3rd? This appears to be increasingly unlikely, due to the large number of absentee and mail in ballots that will need to be counted. Stand-by for possibly a long drawn out election process!
Intensity: Both political camps are now mobilizing their base and reaching out to the remaining “undecideds”. The political atmosphere is growing increasingly partisan and personal. Jews are indeed caught up in this flurry of activism, as partisan support is being mobilized. The levels of activism are reflected in four distinct outcomes: voter engagement, active campaign involvement, the presence of a significant number of Jewish candidates, and record political giving. What we do know, there are fewer “undecided” voters than we have seen in recent presidential campaigns.
Targeting: For Jews living in eight states, all identified this year as “battleground” territories, they are and will be receiving heightened levels of attention. This time around, along with Florida, Ohio, Michigan , Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, historically “contested ground”, Arizona, North Carolina, and Georgia will be added to this mix. As one commentator has coined this geopolitical configuration “the Bagel Belt”. The mobilization is well underway as both Jewish Republican and Democratic organizers are focusing their outreach efforts among these “swing state Jewish voters”.
Money and Politics: With fewer public events it may be more difficult to account for political fundraising being conducted this year by the respective campaigns. What we do know, Jews continue to be major donors to both parties. Beyond their support for President Trump and Vice President Biden, Jewish donors are seen as heavily engaged in senatorial and congressional races across the nation. As this writer has noted, Jewish political giving has played a defining role in past campaigns as a significant lever of influence.
Stepping Back: How have Jews Voted in the Past, 10 Elections
Liberal/progressive third party candidates, especially Robert M. Lafollette and Henry Wallace in this survey, along with Eugene Debs who ran as a socialist five times between 1900 and 1920, would draw significant support from Jewish voters.
Some Other Notes:
On a Personal Note: Meeting Kamala Harris! My first encounter with Senator Harris (now the Democratic Party nominee for Vice President) took place on January 14 , 2011, when Michelle, my wife and I were invited to the LA County Federation of Labor MLK Breakfast, where Ms. Harris was the keynote speaker. The previous November, Kamala Harris had been elected the California Attorney General. She was introduced to an audience of 500 city and county leaders by then LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Following the program, LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas introduced us to Ms. Harris.
On meeting Donald Trump?
Donald Trump arrives at the University of Pennsylvania in the fall of 1966, having transferred from Fordham in order to attend Wharton, Penn’s business school. At the time, I was a graduate teaching fellow for the department of political science. As all entering Wharton students are required to take several humanities courses, including an introductory political theory course (where I was one of the instructors), was the President in my section? While I certainly can recall some of my students, I no longer have any administrative records in connection with this course offering, so who knows?
Steven Windmueller is the Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk Emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Service at the Jack H. Skirball Campus of HUC-JIR. His writings can be found on his website, www.thewindreport.com.
Previous Wind Election Reports and other election-related materials can be found at https://www.thewindreport.com/blog".