In the wake of Democrat Doug Jones’ shocking win over Republican Roy Moore in Alabama’s special Senate election Tuesday, the local and national media and much of the political punditry are claiming we have witnessed a change election. The numbers tell a different story.
Alabama has not changed to a blue state. Republican voters, sick of an election that dragged on for too long – it started with campaigning for the August primary in April — and that was the nastiest, most vitriolic and divisive in decades – if not ever – stayed home in droves.
Jones did not get a groundswell vote. It didn’t materialize. He got 47,000 fewer votes than Hillary Clinton got in Alabama a year ago. He only made gains over Clinton in the percent of the black vote he got, pulling in almost 30 percent of registered black voters. Those are Barack Obama-like numbers.
This was doubtless owing to the goodwill Jones garnered in the black community for his having prosecuted in 2001 — 38 years after the fact — some of the people responsible for bombing the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Another contributing factor to high black turnout were scurrilous and untruthful ads about Moore paid for by dark money from George Soros and former Obama operatives that ran on black radio stations in Alabama’s largest cities.
Moore was knocked off balance by the dubious charges broken in the fake news Washington Post of having attempted to date and sexually assault teenagers – some as young as 14 – from 40 years ago. He never fully recovered. The national Republican establishment – which opposed Moore from the get-go – never funded his campaign and withdrew all campaign worker support in the aftermath of the allegations. Almost all the national Republican political establishment pulled their support and withdrew their endorsements.
The GOP establishment worked hard to defeat Moore, with long-time Senator Richard Shelby — a Democrat-turned-Republican establishment do-nothing fossil who has spent far too long mooching off taxpayers – even going on national news encouraging Republican voters to write in someone else. Video from Shelby’s appearances were used in Jones’ ads.
Moore didn’t help himself by failing to deliver a coherent message refuting the allegations, hiding from the media, campaigning in only friendly territory, sending out poor surrogates to speak on his behalf and temporarily halting his campaign the last weekend before the election in order to attend the Army-Navy football game.
The result was a dispirited Republican electorate that just didn’t bother to vote, or, if they did, wrote in someone else. More than 21,000 write-ins were cast, which surpassed Jones’ victory margin. Moore got only approximately half of the 1.3 million votes Republicans gave to Trump last November.
If you make of it anything other than the fact that Jones defeated a mortally wounded and already highly-toxic candidate who ran a poor campaign that was outspent by 3-1, you’re making far too much of it.