It is always dangerous to draw sweeping conclusions from one data point, so the stunning victory in Alabama by Democrat Doug Jones over Republican Roy Moore in one of the reddest of red states should not be taken as a sign that the era of Republican extremism, so well represented by Moore, is over. The result continues my streak of making wrong predictions, since I had thought that Moore would win and that the only doubt was whether he would win narrowly or easily. My repeated wrongness has made me think of referring to myself as ‘the anti-pundit’. But there are some implications that are easy to predict.
The first is that this is major and humiliating defeat for Donald Trump. He is immature and deeply hates to lose and be associated with losers. The Alabama race had him making several missteps. He first backed Moore’s rival Luther Strange in the primary. After Moore won and was expected to win his senate race easily, he suggested that his endorsement of Strange had been a mistake and that he really preferred Moore. Then when the sex abuse allegations exploded and Moore’s poll numbers dropped below Jones’s, Trump went silent and declined to speak about Moore. Then when Moore’s poll numbers bounced back up, Trump started campaigning strongly for him again especially at the end. So this loss has got to really hurt.
Since Trump is so immature, worse than a spoiled toddler really, he is likely to be livid at what he will see as a personal repudiation and will lash out because no amount of his favorite comfort foods of Big Macs and Diet Cokes will ease his pain.. I feel sorry for the low-level staffers in the White House who will have to deal with his wrath. I have no sympathy whatsoever for the high-level staffers who have been his apologists and enablers, as he unleashes tirades on those whom he thinks are responsible for his humiliation. He has already attacked Moore for being a weak candidate and reminded people that he initially supported Strange because he thought Moore might lose.
It was also a terrible night for Trump’s Svengali Steve Bannon. He had grand designs of taking over the Republican party by having people loyal to him run for office and defeating the Republican party establishment that, while it is extreme, is not extreme enough for him. He led the charge against Strange (who would likely have won easily) and gloated over that fact. The party may wish that he will, as a result of this debacle, fold his tent and steal away quietly into the night but that will not happen. The fairly narrow margin of defeat makes alternative explanations irresistible since any one can be claimed to be decisive. He (and Trump) could argue that it was feckless Republicans like fellow Alabama senator Richard Shelby and other Republican senators and party officials who did not campaign for Moore or speak well of him who caused him to lose, and thus intensify his campaign against the party, thinking that his side just did not push hard enough. I would be pleased to see the party go to war with itself.
If Moore had won, we would have been subjected to endless gloating by Trump and Bannon and we have to thank Jones for sparing us from that fate.
As for the Republican party, on the one hand they are trying to save face by suggesting that this might be a good thing since they will not have the albatross of Moore in the senate to deal with on a daily basis. On the other hand this loss has serious implications. If the Republican brand is so tarnished that having an (R) after one’s name is not sufficient to guarantee a win in statewide elections in Alabama of all places, what does that imply elsewhere? They are currently on the verge of passing an unpopular tax bill that will give huge concessions to the wealthy at the expense of everyone else. Should they go ahead and ram it through while they can before Jones is sworn in and reduces their majority to 51-49? Or should they rethink it because they cannot afford to alienate more people? I think they will go ahead with it because while they do not want to alienate their own voter base any more, they fear more not pleasing their wealthy patrons.
As for Moore, instead of riding off into the sunset on his horse, he has still not conceded the race though the 49.9 to 48.4% margin of his loss is well above the 0.5% threshold that triggers an automatic recount. As polishsalami suggested, he will now have more time to spend at the malls stalking young girls, and security there have probably been placed on high alert. He probably is still pondering why his god has forsaken him.
As for the people of Alabama, one has to wonder how it is that over 650,000 of them voted for a man who in addition to being a serial sex abuser of teenage girls, also thought that we should return to the time of slavery and that all the constitutional amendments after the Bill of rights should never have been passed. Those amendments are what abolished slavery, gave women and blacks the vote, expanded the Bill of Rights, and other measures that any sane person would think would be unthinkable to repeal. Is it any wonder that African-American turnout was higher than expected (even higher than when Obama was running for president) and that they voted almost unanimously for Jones (95%), and women too were overwhelmingly against Moore (58% of all women, 35% of white women, and 98% of black women). The Moore voters, despite their pious Christian pronouncements, simply do not give a damn about the character of the person they are voting for or whether he is a throwback to the worst elements of the 19th century. As long as he opposes abortion, hates gays, and wants to erect his precious Ten Commandment monuments in every public place, they are good to go.
For a good laugh, here was the comment made last night by Republican senator Cory Gardner who is the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee that is charged with winning senate elections for the party. He said, “I hope Senator-elect Doug Jones will do the right thing and truly represent Alabama by choosing to vote with the Senate Republican Majority.” I kid you not. He thinks Jones would best represent Alabama by voting with the party that the voters rejected. Unbelievable.
Last night I watched a live feed of the Moore party site after the race had been called for Jones. The crowd was waiting for Moore to come out but he did not appear (at least until I went to bed at 11:00 pm). So they had two young people come on to raise spirits by leading the crowd in singing. The songs chosen were not exactly what I would have selected to cheer people up. They sang two hymns, Great is they faithfulness and How Great Thou Art. The last hymn is very popular at funerals and so perhaps appropriate for the occasion.