Washington-area Jews waiting out too-close-to-call presidential election
Originally published in Washington Jewish Week
By Eric Schucht
November 4, 2020
As people waited out the results of Tuesday’s election, Hannah Recht, of Washington could say, “I told you so.” She knew it was going to be a nail biter.
“My expectations were pretty similar to the situation we’re in right now,” Recht said Wednesday. “I didn’t think we would know the results last night. I think it was pretty clear that it was going to be close.”
Recht voted for Biden, but wouldn’t go as far as to say that he would win.
“I don’t want to jinx it,” Recht said. “Things are looking good right now. I hope we could know by the end of the day, but I don’t think that’s clear right now.”
Others were more confident. Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the liberal pro-Israel J Street, said in a media briefing Wednesday he believed Biden would come out on top once all votes had been tallied.
“J Street continues as of this moment to be confident that Joe Biden is going to be the next president,” Ben-Ami said. “We believe that by perhaps as early as the end of the day today, there will be enough clear data for Joe Biden to claim victory for the race to be called.”
Joel Griffith, the DC chair if the Young Jewish Conservatives, said he also expected a tight race — as close as it was in 2016. While Griffith didn’t want to say who he thought would win, he did say that he believed that Trump’s chances of returning to the White House appear lower today than they were last night. But overall, he thought Republicans in all elections did better than what many polls showed.
“At the end of the day, it turns out that the election was indeed, much closer than a lot of the polls were showing across parts of the country,” Griffith said. “I think that the narrative from those on the left was that this is going to be a repudiation of the Trump era and Conservatives and the Republican Party. And we certainly did not see that happen yesterday.”
Steph Black, a communications specialist for the National Council of Jewish Women, said her organization is urging people to be patient as the results come in.
“We’ve known for weeks that we were likely to not know the outcome of this election and it’s crucial that every vote is counted,” Black said. “We’re willing to wait for that because this election has immense consequences for women, children, and families across the country. A fair election is worth the wait.”
Israel “Izzy” Klein of Chevy Chase is the political committee chair of the Jewish Democratic Council of America. He said he expected a tight race and that the mood of Democrats he has spoken to has “gone from anxious to hopeful to depressed to relieved. I think all of the emotions are in play right now until we get a resolution from the remaining votes to be tallied. I think it will be pretty hard for folks to feel the kind of closure that’s necessary after an election.”
Joel Taubman of Falls Church voted for neither Biden nor Trump. He said he cast a protest vote for a third party, but declined to specify which one. But in terms of who he thought would win, he puts his money on Biden.
“I was not sure until recently, but it seems that Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona and Nevada are all going to Biden,” Taubman said. “So my answer is, it seems at this stage that Biden is going to win.”
Taubman believes that except for a small number of people, that everyone was surprised by the closeness of the race, including himself. And he attributed this to the polls.
“I think part of the reason that the election seems closer than anyone thought is because the pollsters seem to be very terrible at assessing whether people are going to vote for Trump or not,” Taubman said. “We thought they might readjust after 2016, and they have not.”
Several Jewish organizations have released statements urging people to be patient as the results come in.
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt
“As the final votes are tallied, we reiterate our longstanding calls that every vote counts and every vote must be counted. There is nothing unusual for results to be delayed, as this has happened previously in U.S. history when the winner of an election could not be declared for days or even weeks after the voting. And yet, what happens next will be another important test of our democracy.”
National Council of Jewish Women CEO Sheila Katz
“This election will have immense consequences for the lives of women, children, and families across the country. It is important that we get it right, even if that takes time. A fair and complete election is worth the wait. The Jewish people have faced many challenges throughout history, but we have endured. Though we may need to wait a little longer this year for the final results of the election, we will be patient, we will persevere, we will endure.”
Bend the Arc: Jewish Action CEO Stosh Cotler
“Jewish voters have spoken in this election in record numbers to say that our future in this country is intertwined with the thriving of all people. We are joining together with our neighbors to ensure that we count every vote, deliver our democracy, and get to work building a country where all of us are free and safe.”