2017 Campaign

Roy Moore Was a Truly Awful Candidate

Weekly Standard: “Roy Moore wasn’t a generic Republican candidate. If you’ve ready anything about this race, you know that the Washington Post and other news outlets have published credible claims that Moore had improper sexual contact with teenage girls while he was in his 30s. And even before that, Moore was controversial. He was elected as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court twice, but he was removed from that position in 2003 and suspended from it a few years after winning the seat back in 2012. He won his 2012 election to that position by four points while Romney won the state by 22 points.”

“In other words, Moore was a terrible candidate. And that mattered.”

“No matter how you look at the race, it’s hard to escape the fact that Moore was a truly bad candidate, and that Republicans likely would have performed significantly better if they had nominated a more conventional Republican.”

A Perfect Storm For Democrats

“Everything had to break exactly right for Doug Jones to win the Senate election in deep-red Alabama, and it did. Jones ran a disciplined campaign that hinged on black turnout, and it delivered for him,” The Atlantic reports.

“But everything also had to break the wrong way for the Republicans, and it did: a series of machinations among senior GOP officials led to a runoff between the unpopular Luther Strange and Roy Moore, best known for losing his judgeship over a dramatic battle to keep a 10 Commandments monument in the state supreme court. Moore had a loyal base of support in Alabama despite—or because of—the litany of controversies attached to him, including his inflammatory remarks about homosexuality and Muslims serving in office. But he was unable to reach beyond that base, and barely tried. And in the end he could not survive allegations by nine women that Moore had pursued or sexually abused them when they were teenagers—one as young as 14.”

Jones’s Win Scrambles GOP Congressional Agenda

“Doug Jones’s odds-defying victory in Alabama — handing Democrats a vanishingly rare Senate win in the Deep South — scrambles President Trump’s legislative agenda for the coming year, threatens to heighten Republican infighting and sounds an alarm for the GOP’s prospects in November’s midterm elections,” the Washington Post reports.

“Any dent in the two-seat advantage Republicans hold in the Senate would carry major governing consequences, but the loss of what had been considered one of the party’s safest seats carries a special sting for the GOP.”

“One consequence is Democrats’ much more plausible path to the Senate majority next year. The 2018 map was widely seen to favor Republicans, with 10 Democrats seeking reelection in states President Trump won last year and only two Republican seats clearly at risk.”

A Humiliating Defeat for Trump

“Doug Jones didn’t just defeat Roy Moore in Alabama’s Senate race on Tuesday night — he administered the most crushing and embarrassing political blow of President Trump’s young presidency,” Politico reports.

Dan Balz: “Trump suffered mightily after fully embracing Moore in the final weeks of the campaign, despite credible allegations that Moore had engaged in sexually improper behavior with teenage girls when he was in his 30s.”

“It was the second such setback for the president in a state he won by 28 points just a year ago. In the GOP primary earlier this year, he had endorsed, with limited enthusiasm, Sen. Luther Strange, who had taken the seat of Jeff Sessions when Trump made Sessions his attorney general. For Trump, nothing good has come from that appointment — from a special counsel investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election to a pair of losses in the Alabama races.”

What Black Voter Problem?

Politico: “All the chatter across Alabama for the final week of the race focused on Democrats’ alleged problems turning out black voters. But after a blockbuster turnout operation designed by Jones’ campaign and national Democrats, African-American voters turned out in massive numbers for the former U.S. attorney.”

“His sweeping victories across the state’s so-called ‘Black Belt’ rivaled only his massive victories in the state’s largely African-American cities, like Birmingham and Montgomery… The result swept aside weeks of hand-wringing here and pointed to an optimistic future for a party that wasn’t sure it would be able to bring black voters to the polls in sufficient numbers without Barack Obama atop the ticket.”

National Journal: “African-Americans made up 29 percent of the electorate in the Alabama Senate election — significantly more than both campaigns expected — and they gave Jones 96 percent of their votes.”

A Suburban Shellacking

New York Times: “Voters in Alabama’s cities and most affluent suburbs overwhelmingly rejected Mr. Moore’s candidacy, an ominous sign for Republicans on the ballot next year in upscale districts. In Jefferson County, which includes Birmingham and some of the state’s wealthiest enclaves, Mr. Jones, the Democratic candidate, captured more than 68% of the vote. And in Madison County, home to Huntsville and a large NASA facility, Mr. Jones won 57 percent of the vote.”

“While these Alabamians, many of them women, may have been appalled by the claims of sexual misconduct against Mr. Moore, results like these were not isolated to this race. They mirrored returns in last month’s statewide and legislative races in Virginia, a state filled with well-heeled suburbanites.”

Roy Moore Refuses to Concede

Washington Post: “Speaking to supporters at about 11:34 p.m. Eastern time, Moore said he thought the race might go to a recount, which state law requires when a race is within 0.5 percentage points.”

Said Moore: “When the vote is this close . . . it’s not over.”

“Jones’ lead, at that point, however, still exceeded 0.5 percent“

Trump Congratulates Doug Jones

President Trump congratulated Doug Jones (D) in a tweet for his Senate victory in Alabama:

Congratulations to Doug Jones on a hard fought victory. The write-in votes played a very big factor, but a win is a win. The people of Alabama are great, and the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends!

Doug Jones Wins In Alabama

Doug Jones (D) has defeated Roy Moore (R) in Alabama’s special election U.S. Senate race.

The defeat is a massive blow to President Trump and costs Republicans what should have been a safe seat in a deep-red state.

Most interesting: It looks like Jones may have won by less than the write-in vote margin.

The Senate Leadership Fund issued this statement:

This is a brutal reminder that candidate quality matters regardless of where you are running. Not only did Steve Bannon cost us a critical Senate seat in one of the most Republican states in the country, but he also dragged the President of the United States into his fiasco.

Alabama Election Results

The last polls close in Alabama’s U.S. Senate special election at 8 p.m. ET.

Nate Silver: “Because Alabama rarely hosts competitive races, the benchmarks we might use in another state won’t be as reliable as usual. Furthermore, it’s not just the margins in particular counties that matter, it’s also the level of turnout. As a result, everyone (including us) is going to be more cautious than usual in ‘calling’ a winner or even characterizing who’s ahead until a fair number of votes have been counted… Buckle up for what could be a long night.”

David Wasserman has an excellent follow-at-home model estimating the vote shares Jones and Moore need to exceed in each of Alabama’s 67 counties to win tonight.

NBC News and FiveThirtyEight have good live blogs featuring analysis as the results come in.

The New York Times has live election results.

When Will Alabama Actually Have a New Senator?

CNN: “The earliest the state could certify a winner would be December 26, but the secretary of state’s office does not expect the canvassing board to be able to do so until January 3, and it could be even later, delayed by slow canvassing by the counties and jam-packed holiday schedules between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Once it does, that certification would be sent to Washington immediately. Once the winner is certified, the Senate would likely in swear that person quickly.”

Interesting Exit Poll Result

President Trump’s approval in the early Alabama exit polls is very interesting: 48% approve, 48% disapprove. Trump won Alabama in the 2016 presidential election with 62%.

But what’s even more interesting is the intensity: 32% strongly approve, 41% strongly disapprove.

Nate Silver: “From the tidbits the networks have released, it’s fair to characterize the exit polls — showing Trump’s approval rating only breakeven, a relatively high proportion of nonwhite voters, and a relatively narrow gap between Democratic and Republican turnout — as containing mostly favorable news for Jones. In general, these numbers are more consistent with the pre-election polls that had shown Jones tied or ahead, and not the ones that had Moore winning.”