[Rushtalk] Anatomy of a Stunner: How Roy Moore Lost an Unlosable Race in Alabama

C JUNO cwsiv at juno.com
Fri Dec 15 10:16:48 MST 2017

Anatomy of a Stunner: How Roy Moore Lost an Unlosable Race in Alabama

Guy Benson
Guy Benson
Posted: Dec 13, 2017 9:55 AM
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Anatomy of a Stunner: How Roy Moore Lost an Unlosable Race in Alabama

In a shocking political earthquake, the Republican Party has lost a
Senate election in Alabama.  For perspective on how difficult that feat
was, the closest previous Senate contest in that state over the last two
decades was a...19-point GOP victory.  Just three years ago, Jeff
Sessions ran unopposed.  Donald Trump carried 'Bama by 28 points last
fall.  In my election preview post yesterday, I wrote that an upset by
liberal Doug Jones was improbably plausible, due exclusively to the
disastrously awful candidate Republicans had nominated.  Apologies for
quoting myself, but here you go:

        As far as predictions go, Doug Jones would need a perfect storm
        to pull this off: High black turnout, women turning sharply
        against Moore, and a sizable contingent of disgusted Republicans
        crossing over, writing in someone else's name, or just staying
        home...So while some data suggests a Jones victory as a viable
        outcome, I'll believe it when I see it.  Alabama is about as red
        and as Trumpy as it gets.  Moore mostly weathered the storm that
        coincided with the peak of the sexual allegations, and still has
        to be considered the favorite...we shouldn't overlook how
        extraordinary it is that we're even discussing the possibility
        of a Democrat capturing Jeff Sessions' old Senate seat.  Trump
        carried the state by nearly 30 points last year, and he
        maintains a healthy job approval rating there (53/44, according
        to Monmouth).  If the GOP were running Trump-endorsed and
        scandal-free Luther Strange, or virtually anyone else, this
        contest would be a blowout yawner.  But Alabama Republicans saw
        fit to nominate Roy Moore, tossing a remarkable lifeline to

I thought the ingredients for a massive upset were all in the mix -- but
I'd believe it when I saw it.  And now we've seen it.  Based on exit
polls, African-American voters comprised roughly the same percentage of
the Alabama electorate than they did in 2012, when Barack Obama was on
the ballot. Blacks voted overwhelmingly (96/4) for Doug Jones.  That
turnout data point mattered.  Moore won white college-educated women in
Alabama last night, but only by 11 points.  By contrast, Mitt Romney
carried that cohort by 55 points against Obama.  Romney won Alabama
female voters overall by double digits (56/44); Moore lost them by 17
points. Those data points mattered.  (I've made several comparisons to
2012 here because that was the last statewide general election in which
public exit polling was conducted).  Oh, and there's this.  Ahem:

        Here are the adjusted exits. Moore lost women without kids by 11
        points. He lost mothers by 34. You know why.
        https://t.co/s53zz6S0AX pic.twitter.com/xKJFeJFc0M
        — Will Saletan (@saletan) December 13, 2017

But the number one reason Doug Jones will be a US Senator -- hands down
-- is that many traditional Republican voters either wrote in a
candidate, crossed over for Jones, or (and this was the big one) sat at
home.  As of midnight, with 100 percent of precincts reporting, Jones'
victory margin was a hair under 21,000 votes (that number may fluctuate
as tallies are finalized).  Nearly 23,000 Alabamians followed the lead
of GOP Senator Richard Shelby and wrote in someone other than the two
parties' nominees.  Beyond that, Republican turnout was way down: Jones
came close to matching Hillary Clinton's vote total in the state,
whereas Moore managed just about half of the Trump vote.  Throughout the
night, election gurus kept noticing that Jones was outperforming his
targets in heavily Democratic areas, while Moore was underperforming
significantly in major GOP strongholds.  In short, many thousands of
people who almost always vote Republican in the state of Alabama simply
refused to do so for Roy Moore.  This telling tweet arrived almost
exactly one hour before the race was called for Jones:

        Folks, our model thinks that the GOP may have a big turnout
        The three, white, GOP counties have fallen far short of our
        turnout estimates--including two under 75% of our estimates.
        That's what the big swing in our estimate is about.
        — Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 13, 2017

Moore underperformed Romney by nearly 20 points among moderate
Republicans -- and that's among those who actually bothered to show up.
 How could Moore lose a seemingly unlosable race in the reddest of
states?  By being so noxious and extreme on issues that many Republicans
couldn't stomach him, and by being a credibly accused child molester and
creep.  A majority of Alabamians (51/44) believed the sexual allegations
against him were definitely or likely true -- including strong
majorities of independents and women, who turned heavily against Roy
Moore.  Plenty of Republicans who felt the same way didn't bother
voting.  That's how you lose an Alabama Senate seat as a Republican, a
nigh impossible task.  This surreal implosion had many political parents
who helped cooked up this poisonous brew.  This tweetstorm by a New York
Times reporter is well worth a read for a pretty complete and damning
picture about how many people within the GOP helped author this defeat.

But perhaps no one should take a bigger bow than former White House aide
Steve Bannon, whose loud and bitter boosterism led to the nomination and
survival (until last night) of basically the only Republican in the
state of Alabama who could possibly have lost this race.  Democrats must
be on their knees praying that Republican voters will nominate even more
of Bannon's unpalatable candidates next year.  Bannon claims to be
fighting for the Trump agenda, but he endorsed the guy Trump (smartly)
opposed in the primary, which ended up costing the party a precious
Senate seat -- which could imperil other big ticket Trump agenda items,
including tax reform, on which the party now has close to zero breathing
room.  By the way, I've seen a lot of Trump critics blaming the
president for Moore's loss, but that's unfair.  His last-minute appeals
on Moore's behalf likely spared Moore the further humiliation of a
blowout loss, with late deciders breaking Moore's way.  Trump certainly
had something to do with that.  I'll leave you with a note on abortion,
which was the primary reason I couldn't have brought myself to cross
over and vote for Jones if I'd been an Alabama voter.  He's a far-left
radical on the issue, and exit polls show that the vast majority of the
state that elected him rejects his extremism:

        Only 14% of tonight's (Republican-light) Alabama electorate
        shared Doug Jones' radical abortion stance. A majority held
        pro-life views. Jones still won. Moore was just too much.
        — Guy Benson (@guypbenson) December 13, 2017

So, question: Does Doug Jones vote like a guy who wants to have a prayer
at re-election (assuming Republicans don't re-nominate Roy Moore in a
few years), or will he faithfully back Chuck Schumer like the true blue
liberal that he is?  My strong guess is the latter, but we'll see.
 Parting thought: In 2010, Republicans won a historic landslide against
an unpopular president.  An early indicator of that deluge was a
Republican shocking everyone and winning Ted Kennedy's old Senate seat
in Massachusetts.  Well, a Democrat just shocked everyone and won Jeff
Sessions' old Senate seat in Alabama.  One political observer noted that
if the GOP is vulnerable in the deep south, they can be beaten
anywhere.  My reply:

        Especially if they nominate credibly-accused child molesters who
        think gay people should be in jail. So, yeah. Perhaps try to
        avoid such things & ignore the advice of the people who brought
        about this outcome! #spitballing https://t.co/moNScsDZlV
        — Guy Benson (@guypbenson) December 13, 2017

The Alabama GOP picked Roy Moore with eyes wide open, then largely stood
by him as serious allegations from nine different women surfaced.  The
result was a nearly inconceivable political catastrophe.  Let the nasty
recriminations begin...


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