By Taniel Shant
The Boca Raton Tribune
Without question, the 2016 Election was historic and unprecedented at almost every level in practically every state. From the Electoral College to Florida, and from Palm Beach County to Boca Raton, the following analysis of precinct data, as certified by the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, and the State of Florida Division of Elections, reveals some very noteworthy and record-breaking results. It begins with statewide results for President and Senate, followed by voting results in Palm Beach County, and the City of Boca Raton.
As we know, Donald Trump is now the President, but how well did he really do statewide and in Palm Beach County? How did Floridians vote overall, in Palm Beach County, and in the City of Boca Raton in particular?
In Florida, Donald Trump defeated Hilary Clinton by 119,770 votes, 49.1% to Clinton’s 47.8%. With over 9 million votes cast statewide, overall turnout (not just President) in Florida was 74.48%, almost 20% higher than the national average of 55%, in the 2016 general election. There are many reasons why Trump defeated Clinton, in Florida and across the U.S. Depending on who you ask, the outcome can be attributed to a variety of factors, such as decreased turnout of African-Americans and Hispanics, who showed up to vote for Obama in 2008 and 2012, but who stayed home for Clinton in 2016. Meanwhile, the Republican Party of Florida invested heavily in a grassroots strategy that helped propel Trump. Another factor is the unpopularity of both major party nominees, as evidenced by third-party Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson’s 2.2% share of the electorate in Florida, up from 0.5% in 2012.
Meanwhile, in the Florida Senate contest, incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) defeated Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL), 52% to 44.3%. Although more ballots were cast for President than for Senate in Florida, Rubio received more votes than Trump in the Sunshine State; 4,835,191 votes for Rubio, to 4,605,515 votes for Trump, a difference of 229,676 votes. As such, Rubio received more votes than any statewide candidate ever in Florida history. Rubio also becomes the first Republican Senator in Florida to win re-election in a presidential election year.
In total, over 3.4 million registered voters in Florida did not vote for President, approximately 27%.
PALM BEACH COUNTY
What we saw play out at the state level was similar in Democrat-heavy Palm Beach County. Voters here should be pleased to know that our turnout was 74.58%, slightly higher than the state. Clinton received 55.7% of the vote in Palm Beach County, compared to 40.5% for Trump. Interestingly, support for both Clinton and Trump was less than it was for Obama and Romney in 2012, who received 58.21% and 41.18%, respectively. Again, both Trump and Clinton were deeply unpopular with Palm Beach County voters, so much so that Libertarian Gary Johnson received almost 5X the vote he received in 2012.
As expected, Murphy outperformed Rubio in Palm Beach County. However, Senator Rubio received over 15,000 more votes in Palm Beach County than Donald Trump. Another interesting statistic is the surge of Early Voting. Approximately 36% of all votes in Palm Beach County were cast during twelve days of Early Voting.
In total, 229,171 registered voters in Palm Beach County stayed home, and did not vote, about 25%.
CITY OF BOCA RATON
In the 2016 general election, the City of Boca Raton consisted of 37 precincts. Although Clinton won 20 precincts, Donald Trump actually won Boca Raton with 48.1% to Clinton’s 47.9%, a difference of 98 votes.
In total, turnout in the City of Boca Raton was 77.2%, while 14,545 registered voters did not vote
In the end, the 2016 general election was wild rollercoaster ride. Records were broken, history was made, and the pieces of the political chessboard were moved around across the nation, in the Sunshine State, and in our county. No doubt, it is time for our elected officials to govern, and get to work on behalf of the people. While there is much to be proud of as Floridians, and especially as citizens of Palm Beach County, there is a lot of work left to be done to expand voter access and information, introduce new technologies, increase voter turnout, and make voting more efficient and accurate.
PALM BEACH COUNTY COMMISSION DISTRICT 5
In my race for County Commission District 5 (West Boca Raton, West Boynton Beach, West Delray Beach), I fell short of my goal, with 36% of the vote. However, the 36,930 votes I did receive were the most for a Republican ever in this seat. Additionally, I raised over $50,000, the most for a Republican ever in this seat. I also won my home precinct on Election Day, and 12 overall, again the most for a Republican ever in this seat. While my opponent clearly won, her share of the electorate was actually 5% less than when she ran in 2012, despite a 9% increase in registered voters. I was able to outperform my party and break some records, prompting the Palm Beach Post to recognize the “strong turnout” for my candidacy, and I am proud of the campaign that my team and I ran.
At the end of the day, I congratulated my opponent on her re-election. This was my first run for public office. Although I was up against extremely high odds – a Democrat incumbent in a “safe” Democrat seat who raised 2.5X times what I raised – it was important to me that my first race be in the district and community in which I was raised. As I stated throughout the campaign, West Boca has been my home since 1984. Public service is about giving back to your community and helping people, and I feel that it is important that those who do run, do so first in their home communities. I met so many wonderful people in this process, and I learned a lot about the people in District 5; their concerns, the challenges families and small businesses face, and how government can improve lives. It is an experience I will carry with me forever and I am truly grateful to have had the support of so many people in my home community.
An edited version of this article originally appeared in The Boca Raton Tribune.
Taniel Shant is a resident of suburban Boca Raton, and former candidate for Palm Beach County Commission District 5. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Florida Atlantic University and Master’s Degree in Political Management from The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management. You can follow him on Twitter @TanielShant.
Armenian Caucus Members are Successful
WASHINGTON, D.C. – After a long, close, and hard fought presidential race, Republican nominee Donald J. Trump, early Wednesday morning, surpassed the requisite number of Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly). In addition to the White House, Republicans retained their majorities in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate although by smaller margins.
“We congratulate president-elect Trump and his running mate Mike Pence, and we commend American Armenians who participated in the election process throughout the country,” stated Assembly Co-Chairs Anthony Barsamian and Van Krikorian.
“In his victory speech, president-elect Trump’s call for national unity was gracious and is welcome. During the campaign, president-elect Trump recognized Turkey’s ties to ISIS, as well as its increasingly authoritarian regime. In addition to Turkey, President Trump will also need to address Azerbaijan’s sharp deterioration and its links with ISIS. Both countries pose a threat to stability in the region,” Co-Chairs Barsamian and Krikorian added.
“In view of the insecurity in the region, it is vitally important that Christians and minority communities at risk be protected and we urge the new Administration and new Congress to take steps to safeguard these vulnerable communities,” the Co-Chairs continued.
Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues
In the House of Representatives, the Members of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues had a strong showing with the overwhelming majority of those seeking re-election winning, including Co-Chairs Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Jackie Speier (D-CA), David Valadao (R-CA) and Vice Co-Chairs Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Dave Trott (R-MI). Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Robert Dold (R-IL) facing a re-match with Democrat Brad Schneider did not win, nor did his Senate colleague Mark Kirk (R-IL). Meanwhile, Armenian Caucus Member Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) handily won his election to the United States Senate having defeated Turkish Caucus Congresswoman Donna Edwards in the Maryland primary. In addition, Caucus Member Janice Hahn (D-CA) won her bid for Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
“We congratulate the Members of the Armenian Caucus on their victories. We are proud to have two Members of Armenian descent in the House of Representatives, namely Anna Eshoo and Jackie Speier. Armenian American Danny Tarkanian, however, did not prevail in Nevada,” stated Armenian Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. “We also appreciate the strong support of our friends who will not be returning to Congress and wish them every success.”
In addition to a strong showing on the House side, pro-Armenia candidates also won in the Senate. Apart from Van Hollen, Armenian Genocide resolution cosponsors Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and long-time supporter of Armenian issues Chuck Schumer (D-NY) were all re-elected.
Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.
By Taniel Koushakjian
FLArmenians Political Contributor
As the race for the White House heats up, Armenian Americans across the country are beginning to look more closely at who will best represent their interests as President of the United States. For many Armenian Americans, the 2016 election cycle concludes a chapter in the worst administration on Armenian American issues in modern presidential history. With the broken promises of Barack Obama, whether to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide as President or to increase U.S. assistance to Armenia, the Armenian American community has learned that campaign promises are no true indicator of support after the election. However, one can and should look to a candidates record, votes, statements, and over-all positions in order to arrive at an informed decision as to whether or not that candidate deserves your support.
When looking through the Armenian American lens, the Republican Party has the stronger track record and Marco Rubio is the top choice of all the candidates running for President of the United States of America.
The Race as it Stands
As of this writing, Donald Trump currently leads the Republican Party’s nomination contest with 82 pledged delegates, followed by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) who are tied with 17, Governor John Kasich (R-OH) with 6, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson with 4. There are a total 2,340 delegates available and 1,237 are needed to secure the Republican nomination.
The race for the Republican Party’s nomination could very well be determined in less than 30 days. Super Tuesday, March 1, will see 11 states hold primary votes. For Republicans, 595 delegates are up for grabs, including Cruz’s home state of Texas, about 48% of the total delegates required to win the nomination.
Florida and Ohio will hold their “winner-take-all” primaries on March 15, along with Illinois, Missouri, and North Carolina. In the month of March, 1,398 delegates will be awarded, enough to secure the nomination.
Heading into Super Tuesday, emphasis will be on the ability of each candidate to sweep a large number of delegates and if Cruz, Rubio, and Kasich win their home states. If it doesn’t become a two-man race by the end of March simple arithmetic suggests that Trump will likely be the Republican nominee.
During his tenure in the United States Senate, Marco Rubio (R-FL) has established the strongest record in support of Christian and Armenian American issues of all the candidates in the field, including but not limited to genocide recognition, and not just in Armenia.
On Armenian American legislation, Rubio voted YES on the Armenian Genocide recognition resolution, S.Res. 410, in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) in 2014. The bill passed 12-5; the first time an Armenian Genocide resolution has ever passed this committee.
In 2015, Rubio cosponsored S.Res. 140, the Armenian Genocide resolution, which is currently pending in the Senate with 21 signatories. “As your United States Senator, and as a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, I was proud to co-sponsor S.Res. 140 in support of an Armenian-Turkish relationship following the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. We must continue to fight as an international community with passion and dignity in defense of human rights,” Rubio said in a letter to the Armenian American community to mark the centennial anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. “Please know that you have my full support for your cause,” Rubio said.
Senator Marco Rubio reinforced his position in support of U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide when he joined Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) and 13 other Senators in a letter urging President Obama to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide on the centennial anniversary and to attend the commemorative events in Yerevan, Armenia. Obama did not attend the ceremonies in Yerevan, and sent Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew in his place.
Also in 2015, Senator Rubio signed a letter to Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev regarding the regime’s violent crackdown on political and human rights activists, imprisonment of journalists, and general turn toward authoritarian rule. Rubio’s position on the side of individual liberties, freedom of the press, and democracy is an important element to consider.
Those watching the Republican presidential debates have noticed that, unlike other candidates on either stage, Rubio has repeatedly and unequivocally called out the Islamic State’s barbaric violence against Christians, Yezidis, and other religious minorities in the Middle East as genocide. He also does not hesitate to discuss his Christian heritage and faith, whether it’s his views on life or where his children go to school. As such, he joined Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), a champion of Armenian American issues, as an original cosponsor of S.Res. 340, a bill that would label as genocide ISIS attacks on Armenians, Assyrians, Yezidis, and other ethnicities of religious antiquity in the Middle East.
In addition to his unparalleled record, Marco Rubio has the backing of key political figures. Former Republican Presidential nominee Senator Robert Dole (R-KS), who led the charge on the Senate floor for Armenian Genocide recognition in 1991, endorsed Rubio. “I’m supporting Rubio,” Dole told ABC News last week, “he wants to grow the party.”
Vice Chair of the Congressional Armenian Caucus Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) also endorsed Rubio last week. “Having served with Marco in the Florida Legislature and in Congress, I know him to be a leader that inspires hope and instills in all of us a love of country that we felt under another inspirational leader – Ronald Reagan. Marco Rubio’s life story is proof positive that American exceptionalism is real, but we need to fight to preserve it and expand it to more people. His story teaches us that the son of immigrant parents, who came to this country for freedom and opportunity, can achieve anything, including holding the highest office in the land, where I know Marco will work every day to give back to the country that changed his family’s history.”
In 2015, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) also cosponsored S.Res. 140, the Armenian Genocide resolution. Although Cruz is currently a member of the SFRC, he was not on the committee in 2014, and therefore has never had an opportunity to vote on the Armenian Genocide resolution.
Senator Cruz also issued a powerful statement to the Armenian American community to commemorate the centennial anniversary. “100 years ago, the world was too silent as the Armenian people suffered a horrific genocide,” Cruz said in his letter. “Today, we commemorate more than a million souls who were extinguished by the Ottoman Government. Let the terrors of those events awaken in us the courage to always stand for freedom against evil forces. As Pope Francis rightly said, ‘Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it.’ The massacre of the Armenian, Assyrian and other Christian people should be called what it is: genocide.”
Governor John Kasich (R-OH) has a mixed record on Armenian American issues over his career in Congress (1983-2000). Like Cruz, he has never faced a vote on the Armenian Genocide resolution. However, Kasich’s most recent record shows him as an original cosponsor of H.Res. 155, the genocide recognition bill of 1999. As governor, Kasich issued a proclamation in 2012 congratulating Armenia on its 21st anniversary of independence.
Carson and Trump
As a retired neurosurgeon, Ben Carson has no record in support or opposition to Armenian American issues.
Although Donald Trump has never held elective office, he has a record of questionable business practices, one of which should seriously concern Armenian Americans. According to a Eurasia.net report last year:
“Trump lent his name and management know-how to an upcoming, sail-shaped skyscraper in Baku that is owned by billionaire Anar Mammadov, Mother Jones magazine reported on July 29. Mammadov is a son of the country’s powerful transportation minister, Ziya Mammadov, a man whose family has been long accused of battening on privileged access to government contracts for infrastructure development.
“The deal and Mammadov’s role as a champion of Azerbaijani interests in the US — he heads the Azerbaijan America Alliance — exemplify the two parallel worlds of US-Azerbaijani relations. Baku now bitterly rebukes Washington’s criticism of its dismal human rights records, even as its insiders actively lobby and sweet-talk US politicians.
“And, apparently, investors like Trump.”
Trump’s pro-Azerbaijan leaning is reinforced by the support of Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ). In 2012, Governor Christie issued a proclamation on the so-called “Khojaly massacre” which ridiculously accuses Armenians of committing ethnic cleaning against Azerbaijanis during the 1991-94 Nagorno Karabakh War. The growing Muslim Azerbaijan lobby in Washington, led by the Azerbaijan American Alliance, with who’s founder Trump has a business relationship, has shopped around such anti-Armenian proclamations and resolutions in order to cover up and divert attention from Azerbaijan’s Sumgait, Kirovabad, and Baku pogroms against Christian Armenians in 1988-90.
Christie came to Trump’s rescue in an endorsement on Friday after Rubio used the same attack wielded by the New Jersey Governor against Rubio on Trump. “I watched you repeat yourself five times four weeks ago,” Trump exclaimed at the Republican Presidential debate on Thursday night in Houston, TX. “I watched you repeat yourself five times five seconds ago,” Rubio rebuffed after Trump failed to articulate a healthcare plan.
The Right Choice
Armenian Americans focusing on November must remain mindful of the historical record of the individual, statements made, and tough votes cast in order to make an informed decision about the person and the party accordingly. While there are and have always been genuine, ardent, and steadfast Democratic supporters of Armenian American interests, the historical record reveals that Republican leadership has been more successful. When viewed through the Armenian American lens, it would be foolish for Armenian Americans to continue to reward a party and a President that has been unable to deliver when it mattered most.
There are plenty of issues on the Armenian American agenda. U.S. reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide, defending the rights of Nagorno Karabakh citizens to live freely, and Christian persecution in the Middle East are the most compelling for Armenian Americans in 2016. How legislators act when in power and vote when it counts is what reveals true leadership.
Like other minority groups in America, Armenians are not a monolithic voting block, nor should we be. But we must wake up the political consciousness of our constituency and make the right choice in this election-and that choice is Marco Rubio.
*Updated at 11:15 pm with the addition of Senator Rubio’s signature on the Senate letter to President Obama on the Armenian Genocide centennial anniversary.