Donald Trump overcame national poll deficits and accusations of using anti-Semitic tropes in his closing campaign ads to win a presidential election Nov. 8 he had repeatedly claimed was rigged in favor of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Although Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, declared at 2 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9, that “she is not done yet,” Clinton called to concede little more than half an hour later.
At 2:47 a.m., Trump — a man with Jewish in-laws, a Jewish daughter and Jewish grandchildren — made his first appearance as president-elect. “Mazel tov” was shouted from the crowd as he started a gracious acceptance speech.
He praised Clinton for her hard-fought campaign and said the nation owes her a major debt of gratitude for her service. He then vowed to be the president for all Americans and asked those who opposed him to offer guidance and help for the country’s benefit.
“I promise you that I will not let you down,” Trump said. “I will do a great job.”
With the exception of Virginia, Trump swept the South, including battlegrounds Florida and North Carolina. The insurgent Republican also captured Ohio and Pennsylvania and led throughout the night in Michigan before Wisconsin put him over the top in the Electoral College.
Clinton still had a chance to win the popular vote, but both candidates fell short of a majority.
Trump won Georgia with the lowest percentage for a Republican presidential nominee in 20 years.
While the breakdown of presidential votes within Georgia was surprising — usual Republican strongholds Cobb and Gwinnett counties went to Clinton — the rest of the state’s results largely met expectations.
Republican Johnny Isakson cruised to re-election to the U.S. Senate with more than 55 percent of the vote against Democrat Jim Barksdale and Libertarian Allen Buckley. The GOP retained control of both chambers of Congress.
All 13 U.S. House incumbents on the ballot won re-election, including Lithonia Democrat Hank Johnson, whose controversial comments about Israel in July didn’t stop him from getting 76 percent support against Republican Victor Armendariz. In the race to replace retiring Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, Drew Ferguson beat Angela Pendley to keep the seat Republican.
Few state legislators faced strong challenges. One who did, Democrat Taylor Bennett, lost by 315 votes (roughly 1.4 percent) to Republican Meagan Hanson for the Brookhaven-Sandy Springs seat that belonged to Mike Jacobs until he resigned last year to become a judge.
Three of the four proposed constitutional amendments won easy approval: Amendment 2 (83 percent voting yes), providing secure funding sources to ensure rehabilitative and support services for victims of sex trafficking; Amendment 3 (63 percent yes), revamping the commission that oversees judicial behavior and ethics and putting it more directly under the control of the General Assembly; and Amendment 4 (81 percent yes), assigning the new excise taxes raised from the legal sale of fireworks to trauma care and public safety.
But more than 60 percent voted against Amendment 1, Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposal to create an Opportunity School District composed of individual schools across the state that are deemed to persistently fail their students.
Scores of representatives of Atlanta-area Reform congregations, including rabbis from The Temple, Temple Sinai and Temple Kol Emeth, spent Election Day at polling places in Macon-Bibb County, greeting voters, helping direct them where to go and remaining alert for any problems.
“The day went pretty easily. I wouldn’t say it was boring, but it was almost boring,” said Kol Emeth Rabbi Erin Boxt, who was stationed with the congregation’s youth and family programming director, Ezra Flom.
Most of the voters they met were happy they were there, Rabbi Boxt said.
The poll-watching effort was part of the Nitzavim initiative of the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center, conducted in cooperation with the NAACP, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law and others, and it marked the kind of Jewish re-engagement with the new civil rights movement that Jewish Council for Public Affairs CEO David Bernstein called for during a recent visit to Atlanta.
“It was rather interesting to see, coming back to the church” where the volunteers had received training, Rabbi Boxt said. “There was a woman in a hijab and a gentleman in dreads and then a guy in a yarmulke, all standing next to each other discussing what they had experienced at their particular spots.”