I paid a visit yesterday to several campaign headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, and also spoke to a couple of Jewish leaders in the community of this great city. While the race in MO-3 doesn’t seem quite as competitive as some thought it would be (here’s 538’s forecast, and the more cautious RCP forecast), I was interested in Russ Carnahan and his chances of getting most Jewish votes. Carnahan was also one of the House members having to do with J Street backing and some controversy over Israel-related matters. I must say that my conversations today didn’t reveal any tendency by Jewish voters in St. Louis to abandon him. If you want to know why, the study entitled “Strengthening the Connection of American Jews to Israel: A case study of one attempt to transform the place of Israel in Four St. Louis Synagogues” will be a good start. You can also try this older study, from which one can learn that in this Reform community attachment to Israel isn’t always on top of the agenda.
But enough with MO-3. It is Election Day, and while the media is filled with races-to-watch type of lists, I thought it would be best to suggest my own list of “Jewish” races to watch. These are races that have some “Jewish” significance, or symbolize something that I think is worthy of highlighting. If you think I forgot something – please suggest more races to watch, and we can watch them together. Tonight, I’ll be blogging from Chicago and you’re most welcome to visit and read.
Here are the races I’d recommend:
A. PA Senate, Sestak vs. Toomey:
The most interesting political battle involving Israel-related campaigning. J Street is backing Sestak, the Emergency Committee worked against him. I wrote about this race, but only in Hebrew.
In both these races, relatively new, and relatively attractive Jewish legislators are facing elimination (according to polls). Both will clearly be a manifestation of why Jewish representation in Congress is about to decline from the record numbers seen in 2006 and in 2008 (there are couple other names that can appear under this category: Grayson, Kagen, etc).
C. NY-1: Altschuler vs. Bishop:
Will this be the race from which a second House Jewish Republican is going to emerge? According to polls, that’s possible, but not probable.
D. WI Senate: Feingold vs. Johnson:
This seems like a forgone conclusion: Senator Feingold will be the most senior Jewish legislator to lose his seat in 2010. Read this Slate article about the race. And remember that Arlen Specter will also be missing in 2011.
E. IL-10: Seals vs. Dold:
They are not Jewish, but they have a lot of Jews voting in their district. This race, and others in which a fairly large percentage of Jews vote will give us the opportunity to try and asses whether Jewish Americans move to the right (My interview with Seals is here). Last year, Jewish voters didn’t seem to move in Republican direction. If you want to see what other districts have high percentage of Jewish voters take a look here.