Saturday, December 23, 2017

Alabama U.S. Senate Special Election Result

Happy Holidays!

This post is primary a perfunctory one as I always take responsibility for an incorrect electoral prediction. On the eve before the special Senate election in Alabama, I classified the race as Tossup but with a slight edge to the Republican, with it being Alabama and all. I was wrong though and Democrat Doug Jones won by about a point and a half, and with a plurality just slightly under 50 percent. Clearly, write-in votes cast by Republicans might have made the difference. Of course, a lot of Republicans just stayed home rather than pick between a liberal Democrat and the toxic Roy Moore, the controversial Republican nominee.

As for me, I was extremely glad to have a somewhat rare incorrect call on a race, but for the first time ever, I was glad to see a Democrat win. It was quite an interesting and different experience on Election Night, actively rooting for a Democrat, with no guilt (whereas I found myself last year reduced to hoping Clinton found a way to beat Trump on Election Night, but with a lot of guilt involved.) Moore lead for most of the night, and despite some favorable exit polls for the Democrat, it looked like they would fall just short. Alas though, their strongholds (as much as they exist in Alabama) came in late and Jones won. Of course, Moore is refusing to concede, but the race is over.

Many Democrats rejoiced while others felt a bit bad that they would not have Roy Moore around to kick around anymore or link to Republicans. Minnesota Democrat Al Franken better keep his word and resign now too.

So, it was an interesting experience to watch this Election Night unfold on television as an outside. Fox News was the first to call it for Jones, and that must have been an interesting moment inside the White House. Special elections always depend on turnout and can produce unusual results, and Jones winning in Alabama is right up there with past victories such as Scott Brown once winning Ted Kennedy's seat for the Republicans in Massachusetts.

Basically, the GOP threw away a race and will go into 2018 with their majority reduced to 51-49. They may still be favored to keep their majority there, but with less room for error. A wave election or continued unforced errors will put the Senate at risk, as the House currently is, as Democrats appear motivated to vote against anyone belonging to the party of Donald Trump.

The momentum of the race in Alabama tells an interesting story. The Republican was favored of course, although Moore's controversial nature had the race closer than it should be. Then, the child molestation allegations surfaced, and the polls looked like he was a sure loser. Then, as that story started to fade, a conservative backlash against a Democrat winning there emerged, and Moore looked like the favorite again. With the White House and Trump going all in for Moore though, a blacklash against the backlash might have possibly taken root in the final hours, as African-American voters in Alabama turned out in heavy numbers (with lots of Republicans staying home) and that delivered the victory to Jones. While not every future GOP nominee will be an accused child predator, all of this should be a warning sign for Republicans entering the midterms. Trump of course would insist afterwards that he never thought Moore could win anyway and that he played no part in the loss.

Time will tell if Republicans from the White House to the run of the mill primary voter will now side with the Mitch McConnell "establishment" wing of the party in picking potential candidates and issues or with the Steve Bannon/Breitbart insurgents who felt that nominating and supporting a  sick joke like Roy Moore was a good idea. Clearly, the divisions in the GOP remain and a lot of in the line in next year's primaries from coast to coast.

For now, Mitch McConnell and most of his Senate colleagues have breathed a sigh of relief about this outcome, even if it reduced their majority to dangerous political levels.


Post a Comment

<< Home