Thaddeus Swanek Thaddeus Swanek
Senior Writer and Editor, Strategic Communications, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


November 04, 2020


Fill me in:

If last night’s election shows anything, it’s that the American democratic process is alive and well. There was historically high turnout with many voting ahead of time. By one estimate, more than 160 million people voted in this presidential election, some 67% of the voting-eligible population—the highest rate since 1900.

It’s no surprise then, that the votes are still being tallied in many of the races where we endorsed candidates, but we are on track for a very strong slate of pro-business lawmakers committed to responsible governing in the next Congress—on both sides of the aisle.

What happened?:

Earlier this year, the U.S. Chamber established two awards programs—the Abraham Lincoln Leadership for America Awards and Jefferson-Hamilton Awards for Bipartisanship—recognizing members of Congress who demonstrate the bipartisan leadership and constructive governing necessary to move our country forward.

It’s not surprising that the vast majority of the recipients of those awards ended up in the win column last night or earlier today. Here’s a quick a breakdown:

  • 19 Leadership for America Award winners up for reelection won.
  • 16 of the Bipartisanship Award Winners up for reelection won, with one race still too close to call.
  • The legislators who earned top scores of 100% for these awards have either secured victory or are on the path to re-election.

The U.S. Chamber supports bipartisanship because it is a key ingredient for legislation that can stand the test of time.

Key pro-bipartisanship wins of the night:

In fact, all the top winners of these awards (those scoring 100%) either won—or are on the path to victory—in their races including:

  • In the Senate, Sens. Thom Tillis of North Carolina (100% for Leadership) and Susan Collins of Maine (100% for Bipartisanship) are both leading their races.
  • In the House, Republican Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska (100% for Leadership) and Democrat Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas (100% for Leadership) were both re-elected.
  • Also in the House, Democrat Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey (100% for Bipartisanship) was reelected and Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania (100% for Bipartisanship) is leading in his reelection.

U.S. Chamber endorsements’ impact:

Historically, U.S. Chamber endorsements are known to have a big impact and that rang true in 2020. Here’s the breakdown:

  • 14 incumbent Republican senators the U.S. Chamber endorsed have been declared winners according to the most recent results.
  • Four of the incumbent Republican senators the U.S. Chamber endorsed are entering runoffs to determine a winner.
  • 166 House Republicans the U.S. Chamber endorsed have been declared winners, including 27 freshmen Republicans.
  • 18 House Democrats the U.S. Chamber endorsed have been declared winners, including 12 freshmen.

We expect these numbers to grow as additional races are called in the hours and days ahead.

Key quotes:

“Throughout my time in the Senate and as Speaker of the House, I have been dedicated to implementing pro-growth policies that enhance opportunities for the people of North Carolina, and I am proud to have the support of an organization that strives to do the same.” – Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC).

“As one of the few entrepreneurs in Congress, I’m especially grateful to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for their endorsement...I’m grateful to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for recognizing and supporting the need for bipartisanship as we pave the path to prosperity for all Americans.” – Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN).

Our take:

Margins are razor-thin right now, and there are millions of absentee ballots in key battleground states yet to be counted and every vote should be counted. It’s important that we not only have patience, but also trust in our democratic systems as election officials work to ensure every ballot is counted and we reach an accurate result in the remaining undecided races.

But overall, this election shows that the American people want and expect cooperation when Congress convenes in January. And that’s good—because we have lots of work to do.

What’s next:

Regardless of where the chips fall when the final results are tallied, the U.S. Chamber is very well positioned to break through the gridlock and work with whomever occupies the White House and a divided Congress to restore public health, revitalize our economy, and help rebuild American lives and communities.

The first order of business is pandemic relief. Lawmakers must return to the negotiating table and work through their differences to pass an aid package as quickly as possible.

Next, the U.S. Chamber is going to push for infrastructure to be a top priority in 2021. Modernizing our infrastructure has broad support and can drive the growth and jobs we need now. It can also set the tone for good governance on other priorities essential to rebuilding our economy.

Additional Resources:

  • Read the U.S. Chamber’s joint statement with other organizations in business, labor, and the faith community urging patience and calm and condemning violence as our democratic process proceeds.
  • See the U.S. Chamber’s joint statement on the importance of counting all votes and trusting in the democratic process.
  • Access an absentee ballot and early voting processing map.
  • Take a deep dive into key U.S. Chamber Senate races.
  • Learn about the U.S. Chamber’s post-election top priorities.
  • See what to expect from now through inauguration.

About the authors

Thaddeus Swanek

Thaddeus Swanek

Thaddeus is a senior writer and editor with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's strategic communications team.

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