Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Alabama U.S. Senate Election

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Democrat Doug Jones shocked this state, and the country, by defeating Republican Roy Moore in Alabama’s Senate special election Tuesday, a victory that sounds a loud warning to the White House and the Republican Party.
President Trump had thrown his full support behind Moore, who was a controversial figure even before multiple allegations emerged that he had pursued inappropriate relationships with teenagers as an adult.
Jones’ victory is a shot in the arm for Democrats, who are hoping that anger at Trump and congressional Republicans will fuel a “wave” election in 2018, flipping the U.S. House of Representatives, and perhaps even the Senate, blue.

“Tonight is a night for rejoicing,” Jones told a jubilant crowd in Birmingham after defeating Moore 670,551 votes to 649,240, with 100 percent of the vote counted.
Sometime after 8 PM EST tonight we should know if Alabama voters have decided to send Democratic former prosecutor Doug Jones or Republican former judge Roy Moore to the U.S. Senate. As you may have heard Moore has been accused of molesting and pursuing young women below the age of eighteen, including some as young as fourteen. Even in Alabama, fourteen is under the age of consent. However for all sorts of current and historical reasons, Democrats are so politically toxic among the majority of Alabama voters, that even with seemingly credible accusations of pedophilia Moore is still in the race, though it is closer than he would like. After a brief pause in Republican support to see if Judge Moore's campaign imploded, the RNC and President Trump have apparently decided that Moore has a good chance to win. They've thrown their support behind him. Democrats would obviously like to reduce the Republican margin of control in the Senate but likely wouldn't be overly upset if Moore won. Democrats would attempt to label Republicans the harassment or pedophilia party. They would play this up in the midterm elections and/or attempt to shame Republicans into removing Moore from the Senate. 

The problem with this strategy is that (1) it's unclear as to whether Republicans have any shame on this issue and (2) political tribalism has reached such levels that many people in both major parties no longer really care what their guy/gal did. They only care about stopping THEM from reaching their goals.

Wearing a broad smile and pronouncing himself “exuberant,” Mr. Jones cast a ballot for himself on Tuesday morning and leveled a final round of criticism at his Republican opponent. Accompanied by his wife, Louise, and his sons, Mr. Jones strolled into the Brookwood Baptist Church in Mountain Brook, an upscale Birmingham suburb, picking up his ballot from a line of tables backed by a cross and a Christmas tree. Alluding to the state’s restrictive voter-identification law, he joked to his wife: “Louise, got your I. D.?”Mr. Jones was upbeat. “This is an important time in Alabama’s history, and we feel very confident of where we are and how it’s going to turn out,” Mr. Jones said. Mr. Jones predicted black turnout would be strong and laced into Mr. Moore for comments he has made criticizing the constitutional amendments, enacted after the Civil War, that abolished slavery and gave broader rights to African-Americans.

Mr. Weston said it seemed like something was not right with the country these days. He said it seemed like nobody was looking out for small farmers like him. “I just feel like they’re trying to put the little man out of business,” he said. And he likes the hard line on immigration that Mr. Trump espouses, and that he figured Mr. Moore would support. He said he works with Latino immigrants and knows they make good money. And yet he sees them with shopping carts full of food at the grocery store. He thinks they buy them with government aid. As for the allegations against Mr. Moore, he asked, why were they coming up now? And anyway, he said, it was a different time. Teenagers went with older men around here, he said. “It wasn’t nothing back then.”

Mr. Moore insists that he did not molest teenage girls or make romantic advances toward far younger women when he was an adult. But at a busy polling station in southeast Alabama, one woman after another said she was bothered by Mr. Moore and the allegations against him. Leslie McLeod, 27, said she cast her ballot for “Democrat Doug,” a reference to Doug Jones, the Democratic nominee. “The other one is a rapist, and he said all the times were good was when there was slavery,” she said, recalling Mr. Moore’s remarks that the nation was last great in the era of slavery.

This election will be another test of the abiding strength of the racial, religious and cultural resentments that drove many Trump voters to support the President, particularly in the South. Moore is an incarnation of those feelings. Jones successfully prosecuted KKK members involved in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham. That might not be a shining point on your resume for Alabama voters. It has been twenty-five years since a Democrat won election to the U.S. Senate from Alabama. Hardcore Republicans will need to decide if Moore's alleged misdeeds justify ending that streak. We will see.
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