ANALYSIS: Potent #JewWave Shakes Up Congress — And Democrats by the Forward

ANALYSIS: Potent #JewWave Shakes Up Congress — And Democrats

The #JewWave turned into a mini-Democratic tsunami in the midterms even as the overall #BlueWave failed to deliver a knockout punch to President Trump and the GOP.

Jewish Democrats had a remarkable election night, flipping 7 Republican-held seats in the House of Representatives, an outsized share of the 35-odd seats that Democrats grabbed from the GOP.

NEWS ANALYSIS

To put that in context, Black Democrats flipped 4 seats seats and Latinos flipped a handful, making Jews an even more powerful component of the Democratic coalition than ever.

In the Senate, Jacky Rosen emphatically won her Senate race in Nevada, the only Democratic pickup of the night on a fairly dismal night for Team Blue in the powerful upper chamber.

THE #JEWWAVE SWEPT FROM COAST TO COAST

In the House, from Staten Island and Virginia Beach to Southern California and outside Seattle, Jewish Democrats proved potent vote-getters in suburban swing districts that Democrats believe will become their heartland for years to come.

The sheer number of Jewish Democratic insurgents proved valuable on Election Night. Jewish candidates expanded the playing field, giving them multiple bites at the #BlueWave apple.

Navy veteran Elaine Luria pulled off an upset win even as former Jewish federations leader Kathy Manning fell short in North Carolina.

Two Jewish Democrats failed to flip Florida seats but pediatrician Kim Schrier rode a well-run campaign to victory in Washington state.

Elissa Slotkin defeated a Republican incumbent in Michigan even though Dana Balter failed to break through against a popular moderate GOP representative in Syracuse, New York.

And perhaps most surprisingly of all, Max Rose, who is also a military veteran, ran a tenacious campaign to win a Staten Island seat that was thought to be safely in GOP hands.

In the end, there will be 28 Jews in the new House, a whopping 5-seat increase over the current House. Thanks to Rosen, there will be 8 Jewish senators, up from 7 now.

If anything those eye-popping numbers actually understate the #JewWave. Two Jewish Democrats in the House sought higher office, meaning seven Democrats flipped GOP-held seats. One additional newcomer, Andy Levin, took the place of his father, Sander Levin, who retired from his Detroit-area seat.

That amounts to a historic addition to the Congressional Jewish caucus.

But wasn’t only about the math. It’s also about the people.

Look carefully at the Jewish winners and you will find a very different profile from the standard-issue politically connected lawyers who make up the bulk of Jewish Democrats in Congress.

Two are military veterans. One is a pediatrician. Another is the grandson of advice columnist Dear Abby.

These are the types of candidates with potential to reach a much broader swath of the electorate, meaning it wouldn’t be surprising to see them running for Senate seats down the road.

There were also a few non-Jewish candidates like Antonio Delgado in the Catskills who ran hard on Jewish connections, in his case his wife and children who are being raised as Jews. Again, that shows that Jewish identity of one sort or another can be a potent drawing card for Democrats as they to tweak their coalition for the age of Trump.

And the Jewish candidates won on far different turf than Jews have won in the past.

Almost all of them ran and won in suburban or even exurban districts. That makes them more valuable — and potentially more powerful — parts of the Democratic Party’s new emerging majority than the previous Jewish candidates, who were primarily represented deep blue urban or inner suburban seats.

Of course, that same factor makes the newcomers more vulnerable if the pendulum swings back to the GOP in 2020 or later.

It could also expose unexpected rifts over Israel or domestic issues among a more-diverse group of Congressional Jewish Democrats.

But for now, Jewish Democrats are digesting a win of historic proportions — and preparing to flex new muscle in the new Congress.

Author

Dave Goldiner

Dave Goldiner

Dave Goldiner is the Forward’s director of digital media. Dave is a veteran journalist who has spent two decades working at newspapers in the United States and Africa. A native New Yorker, Goldiner wrote for the New York Daily News, where he covered some of the biggest stories of our time, including the attacks of September 11, along with thousands of stories of hope and heartbreak. He also studied and worked in Southern Africa and has written for publications in South Africa and Zimbabwe. He holds masters degrees in journalism and public administration from Columbia University. Dave can be reached at goldiner@forward.com, or follow him on Twitter @davegoldiner

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ANALYSIS: Potent #JewWave Shakes Up Congress — And Democrats

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