Scanning the landscape after the votes were cast, Hillary Clinton and the Democrats could find any number of reasons to be disappointed.
Exit polls showed that women backed Clinton over Donald Trump by just 54%-42%, far less than she’d hoped and expected. White college graduates, who seemed to be in her column, ended up backing Trump 49%-45%, according to the same exit polls.
Even Hispanics were a disappointment; despite Trump’s insulting rhetoric about Mexicans and immigration, he won a full 29% of the Hispanic vote, to Clinton’s 65%.
The three demographic groups that proved most loyal to the Democrat were blacks, 88%-8%; gays, 78%-14%; and Jews, 71%-24%. Even here, though, there was cause for disappointment. The Jewish margin of 71% for the Democrat is fairly low in historic terms. Democratic presidential candidates in recent years have usually scored in the high 70s among Jewish voters. By the same token, Trump’s 24% of the Jewish vote is fairly respectable. Bob Dole in 1996 and George H.W. Bush in 1992 both scored in the teens.
There was good news on the Jewish political front in Congress. Of the 19 Jewish members in the outgoing House of Representatives, two retired — Democrats Steve Israel of New York and Alan Grayson of Florida — but all of the rest were reelected.
In addition, there were five Jewish candidates for the House who won their elections, bringing the total in the next Congress to 22. Among them is a Republican, David Kustoff of suburban Memphis, Tennessee. He joins Republican Lee Zeldin of Long Island, bringing the Jewish GOP delegation up to two, the highest number in years.
Kustoff’s Tennessee district is immediately adjacent to that of another Jewish congressman, Steve Cohen of Memphis. In an odd twist, this means that the most conservative and most liberal Jews in the House are next-door neighbors — in Tennessee of all places.
Other Jewish newcomers, all Democrats:
Brad Schneider: Won back his old seat, Illinois’ 10th congressional district in the northern suburbs of Chicago, from Republican incumbent Robert Dold.
Josh Gottheimer: Won New Jersey’s 5th district at the state’s northern tip, defeating Republican incumbent Scott Garrett.
Jamie Raskin: Won Maryland’s 8th district in the Washington suburbs. The seat had been held by Democrat Chris Van Hollen, who was elected to the U.S. Senate.
Jacky Rosen: Won Nevada’s 3rd district in suburban Las Vegas. The seat had been held by Republican Joe Heck, who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate. Rosen is a past president of Congregation Ner Tamid in Henderson, Nevada.
Jonathan Jeremy “J.J.” Goldberg is editor-at-large of the Forward, where he served as editor in chief for seven years (2000-2007).