Doug Jones Scores Upset in Alabama Senate Race

Alabama has elected its first Democratic Senator in over two decades. As I indicated in Links yesterday, I’d never even remotely seen as many signs out for a political campaign when I was in Birmingham over Thanksgiving, and every one I saw was for Jones. That seems to have been a harbinger for the vote today. As The Hill confirmed, “But Democrats outpaced Republicans in turnout, a shocking display in such a red state.”

Admittedly, this was more a vote against the horrorshow of Roy Moore than a strong endorsement for Jones, who didn’t stand for much beyond being the other guy. And Alabama is so not representative of where the Democratic party is likely to take ground that the Jones win is not likely to factor much if at all into the unresolved conflict in the Democratic Party between the big money Democrats and the Sanders wing. The fact that a candidate who is close to a blank slate won will nevertheless be used as an excuse by the Democratic party establishment to persist in its strategy of pursuing “suburban” Republicans, when that species is not much in evidence in Alabama.

However, even with Moore arguably being a special case due to the timely exposure of his pursuit of underage girls, this loss has to rattle the Republicans deeply. Alabama is a state with a lot of diehard Trump voters, and Trump pulled for Moore. It’s also one with evangelicals and quite a few Southern Baptists who would be guaranteed to vote for an anti-abortion candidate, no matter how repugnant he was. This is the most decisive proof so far of the thesis that the Republicans are going to have a hard time keeping losses to a minimal level in the 2018 midterms.

Republicans see the Moore defeat as a repudiation of its populist wing. I’d like to see more post-election analysis, as in demographic breakdown of who voted how as well as voter interviews, before being so sure. However, it is sure that that establishment Republicans will use the Moore defeat to wrest control from the insurgents. Again from The Hill:

Moore’s defeat is a significant loss for Trump, and for Stephen Bannon, the former White House strategist and Breitbart News chief who campaigned for him over other Republicans’ objections.

Bannon’s critics wasted no time piling on him and framing his brand as toxic to the party’s chances at holding its congressional majority.

“This is a brutal reminder that candidate quality matters regardless of where you are running,” said Steven Law, who serves as the head of the Senate Leadership Fund super PAC and has emerged as one of Bannon’s chief detractors.

“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,” he added.

While this says much about party infighting, it’s hardly accurate to assign blame to Moore staying on the ballot to Trump. As I recall, the Moore sex scandal broke too close to election time for a replacement candidate to be installed, and Moore’s primary opponent, Luther Strange, rejected the appeal for him to campaign as a write-in candidate. And as much as I am not a Bannon fan, blaming the failure of Republicans in Alabama to turn out on Bannon is bit of a stretch. Talk radio has more pull among the hard core red voters in Alabama than Breitbart.

This loss also has to factor into upcoming legislative battles, most important, the tax bill. Even though Jones will not be seated before January, and the Republicans were planning to pass a tax “reform” bill by year end, the Jones win throws a spanner in the works. The bill is very unpopular and does not poll very well even with Republicans. Moreover, with Jones in, the odds of the Republicans using big tax cuts to force through their pet agenda of “entitlement” cuts, namely, food stamp, Medicare, and Social Security, also looks far more remote. Some Republicans are likely to reappraise the risk of signing up for tax “reform” and demand a more modest bill.

Update: True to his tasteless form, more than an hour after the Associated Press was the first to call the race for Jones, Moore is refusing to concede. The New York Times has reported that with all precincts in, Jones won by 1.5 points, well over the 0.5% margin for an automatic recount. From the Times, which has a county-by-county breakdown:

Doug Jones, a Democrat, won the special election on Tuesday to fill the United States Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions, now the attorney general. Mr. Jones aimed to create a lead in the urban counties that include Birmingham and Montgomery, and across a band of largely black counties. Strong support for Roy S. Moore, the Republican, was expected in rural, mostly white parts of the state.

One critical battleground was a trio of smaller, whiter cities: Mobile, Tuscaloosa and Huntsville. Late Tuesday night, Mr. Jones led by a large margin in Mobile County, and he had won Tuscaloosa County and Madison County, home of Huntsville.

From The Hill:

Shortly after Moore’s speech, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R) was asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper if he expected “anything other than Mr. Jones being the next senator from the state of Alabama.”

“I would find that highly unlikely to occur, Jake,” Merrill replied.

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96 comments

    1. Carla

      From CNN: “Former NBA player Charles Barkley said Tuesday night that Democrat Doug Jones’ victory is ‘a wake-up call for Democrats.’
      Speaking to CNN’s Jake Tapper… Barkley said Democrats have ‘taken the black vote and the poor vote for granted for a long time. It’s time for them to get off their ass and start making life better for black folks and people who are poor’…

      Go, Barkley! I’m ready to vote for YOU!

      Reply
  1. AngryUndergrad

    I’ll take a shot to that headline:
    Boring Establishment Democrat Wins Senate Race Against Evangelical Child Connoisseur

    Reply
  2. Altandmain

    As bad as the Establishment Democrats are, Moore deserved to lose.

    It’s not like the GOP’s Karen Handel defeat of Democrat Jon Ossoff where Handel, although I found her platform quite repulsive, was a “conventional” Republican. I was amused when Ossoff lost – it was a slap in the face to the Establishment Democrats and a vote between 2 awful choices. Arguably Trump also deserved to lose, but I think that he had a point on manufacturing and frankly, the nation was sick of the Clintons – 4 more years of them was unbearable.

    There is another matter. Had Trump actually implemented a serious right wing populist version of the New Deal, he might have pulled through a victory tonight in this election. Instead he has given the US even more to the rich in a predictably, but still infuriating betrayal to his base.

    I do see another drawback. Many Establishment Democrats will see the sacrificing of Al Franken as “worth it” and see a good excuse to push for more virtue signalling over real substance. I think they will learn all the wrong lessons from this one. They are, as Jimmy Dore notes, paid to lose.

    We will have to wait and see how Doug Jones ends up voting. I fear he will be a neoliberal, in which case the Republicans may yet win this next time with a less repulsive candidate.

    Reply
    1. edmondo

      Many Establishment Democrats will see the sacrificing of Al Franken as “worth it”….

      Franken wasn’t “murdered,” he committed suicide. Since when is groping other people an admirable trait?

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Even though Franken jumped off of the cliff, he was first, if reports are accurate, pushed towards the verge. Frankly, politics attracts the kind of people who tend to abuse others. Many famous politicos were predators: Bill Clinton, Jack Kennedy, being the most high visibility ones in America. Franklin Roosevelt, he of New Deal fame had a mistress. There is a “Nans’ Closet” in the White House where a former president would hide his amorata on occasion.
        I see the real reason Franken was ‘suicided’ as being his old time progressivism. I know that I open myself up to flaming here, but I thought that Franken was not a dyed in the wool Clintonista, and thus had to go, as far as the DNC ‘Cult of Clinton’ was concerned. As Braziles’ book made clear, the Clintons bought the DNC, lock, stock and barrel. It is now nothing more than an arm of a budding “Cult of Personality” centered around a family, rather than an individual.
        My oft repeated jokes about “Fearless Leader” now seem to have been my subconscious expressing the real state of affairs viz. the Democrat Party. At this rate, how long can the Republic continue as a Republic? I fear that the shift to a Caudillo style of rule is well under way in America.
        Time to get dressed and sleaze on over to the Chicken Palace to earn my .56 of a living wage.

        Reply
        1. nlowhim

          One of those is not like the other. Abuse is one thing, but does having a mistress equal that? Seems a little puritanical to assume so.

          Reply
      2. Stephen Gardner

        Clearly Franken did some pretty sketchy things. The problem is that with what appears to be a pervasive problem with men wielding power the issue of selective enforcement for political reasons arises. Focusing on individuals deprives society of the opportunity to change the system that allows power to be abused.And even when individuals are punished there must be some measure of prioritization and proportionality. I guarantee that Franken shouldn’t be first on the list.

        Reply
      3. Allegorio

        Al Franken, talk about neo liberal tool. Good riddance. Entitled brat, just having fun assaulting women. Just lighten up!

        This is not just virtue signaling. He was another phony progressive giving progressivism a bad name. His behavior is consistent with the ideology of neo liberal privilege.

        What was his morning affirmation this time: I’m not as privileged as the billionaire brat in the White House. Oh no!!! Why do I have to resign when he doesn’t booo hoooo.

        Reply
    2. PH

      Franken is a soulless Bluedog opportunist. Exectly the type that needs to be purged.

      So is Gillibrand.

      So are most of them.

      Reply
      1. Spring Texan

        But not for this reason! And he’s a lot better than the woman who will replace him. He was pretty good at questioning Sessions and so forth.

        I’m disgusted with the Democrats for forcing him out and with him for being a wimp on getting forced out.

        Reply
        1. PH

          Routinely pandered to special interests in Minn. terrible on environmental issues. Generally, an opportunist obsessed with one thing: his next election.

          Reply
  3. John Zelnicker

    Alabama comes through in a pinch! Accounting for all of Yves caveats above, I still think it’s a fabulous win. My faith that Alabama had not sunk to the depths that Trump has plumbed has been affirmed. There are some limits.

    Inspired as I was by the election today, I contacted the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America and suggested holding a tax clinic in the event a tax bill is signed into law to help people fill out new W-4 forms for their tax withholding – a concrete, material benefit. I’m pretty sure I first saw the suggestion here on NC, but don’t remember where.

    The local organizer has responded and he is also a fan of NC (that’s 2, maybe we can get enough for a meetup). It was my use of the phrase “concrete, material benefits” that caught his attention.

    Thank you, Lambert.

    I’ll provide updates if anything pans out with the DSA.

    Reply
          1. John Zelnicker

            @allan – Thank you for that. I wanted to give credit where credit is due.

            It’s an excellent idea and I hope it gains traction, both here in Mobile, and elsewhere in other DSA chapters or any group of progressives who agree that offering concrete, material benefits is the key to gaining political power.

            Reply
  4. edmondo

    I think the real lesson here is that America loves gridlock. I saw the re-election of Sens. Toomey in PA and Johnson in WI as a way to temper the executive power of Clinton who looked like a mortal lock to sit in the Oval Office until they started counting the votes.

    Doug Jones is another attempt to slow down the GOP before they totally destroy the country. Hard to find any downside in that.

    Reply
      1. Ian

        Pretty much. Alot of people fear (deathly afraid and angry, and rightfully so) the alternative to gridlock. The reality is that it is going to only get much worse and anything that slows that process down to the people that get destroyed by it, is a relief to them.

        Reply
  5. Dick Burkhart

    Doug Jones is not “a blank slate”. Read the NY Times profile of him. He has a very strong record on civil rights, solid political skills and instincts, and called to keep CHIP is his victory speech. He was also endorsed by John Nichols. Perhaps not a Bernie Sanders democratic socialist, but pretty good for Alabama.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Jones has never held elected office before. He was a US attorney. He was in private practice after that. He IS a blank slate. He said very little about policy during his campaign and has no record on tons of matters that Senators must vote on. I stand by my comment.

      Reply
      1. Biph

        If he truly does have good political instincts maybe he’ll see throwing in with Sanders rather than Schumer gives him the best chance of remaining the Jr. Senator from Alabama beyond his current term.

        Reply
        1. Tony of Ca

          I hate to break it to you; but he wont. He ran on nothing other than he was not Roy Moore. Doug Jones will be a short term nothing burger of a Senator. He will go along with Schumer’s gang. We have only one party in the Senate: Wall Street. The worst of it is the establishment republicans will use the defeat as an excuse to push the tax reform through quicker.

          Reply
          1. Lee

            Doug Jones will be a short term nothing burger of a Senator

            Pleasure is sometimes nothing more than the absence of pain. This is a primary proposition of which “gridlock is our friend” is a corollary.

            Reply
          2. PH

            Usual capture routine:

            Schumer invites new senator to orientation meeting.

            Chat about this and that. Oh, by the way, rules can be confusing. But don’t worry, we can help set you up with a chief of staff who knows the ropes.

            Great! Says intimidated newbe.

            And it is over. Chief of staff hires and runs rest of staff. All part of Bluedog clique.

            Staff controls info senator gets about “realistic” options.

            Clique rule institutionized.

            Seen it many many times.

            Reply
  6. Lambert Strether

    It looks like — “looks like” in the sense that I’m too lazy to find the links — two things at least happened:

    1) The counties Moore won in 2012 he won again, but by lesser margins

    2) Black turnout was 30% (good)

    3) Birmingham, Huntsville, etc. They were the last to come in, so when the race was still tied, Moore was toast.

    Reply
    1. scoff

      A graphic shown on MSNBC last night told a relevant tale.

      Counties that went for Trump last year saw a 40-45% reduction in turnout while turnout in other, mostly blue, counties saw only 25-30 percent fewer votes than during the presidential election.

      Turnout, it turns out, was key.

      Reply
      1. Jim A.

        That part is no surprise. I pretty much figured that Republicans which were too disgusted with Moore to vote for him would stay home rather than vote for a Democrat. What surprised me is that there were enough of them.

        Reply
    2. John Zelnicker

      @Lambert – I was watching Politico’s live updates and they had an interesting chart showing the extent to which each county shifted the ratio of Dems to Repubs from the 2016 presidential race. All 67 counties moved significantly towards the Dems. Even though many went for Moore, the margins were much lower than 2016.

      Reply
    3. allan

      Pretty shocking display of Alabama’s gerrymandering at the Congressional district level (with maps):

      J. Miles Coleman‏ @JMilesColeman

      Unofficial results, but #ALSen by Congressional District. Left is 2016, right is 2017. Doug Jones turned HRC’s 28% loss into a 1.5% win while *only* carrying #AL07. Suburban #AL06 has the biggest swing to Jones (he improved 40% from Clinton).

      Win state by 1.5% in the popular vote, but lose 6 out of 7 CDs. Riiight.

      It would be interesting to see what this looks like at the state legislative district level.

      But, as the Chief Justice of SCOTUS said during the oral arguments on the WI gerrymandering case,
      it’s all “sociological gobbledygook”.

      Reply
      1. JohnnyGL

        Wow….that’s interesting/shocking.

        On a slightly positive note, 3-4 more districts are within striking distance, if the swing goes to around a 6% win instead of 1.5%.

        Reply
  7. Tony of Ca

    I’m not a Bannon fun in the least, but I will say he has a far greater understanding of the blight facing the middle class than does the corporate democrats or the main stream republicans. Trump’s main problem is he was elected as a populist and his governing similar to the Bushes. I don’t think the average Trump voter was excited about Paul Ryan’s tax plan.

    Reply
    1. Darius

      The tax deform and anything Moore would have supported would have damaged middle class fortunes even more. But he did wear a cowboy hat and brandish a little pistol and say some really stupid things, proving he’s “one of us.”

      I’m sick of calling these people populist. There’s nothing populist about them. They’re just white nationalists and crooks.

      Reply
      1. Stephen Gardner

        Please don’t call them white nationalists. That is their term. They are white supremacists. There is a difference. Think about which one sounds worse and is in fact more accurate. The left has to stop letting the right win the language war.

        Reply
  8. The Rev Kev

    To misquote Martin Luther King Jr: “I look to a day when politicians will not be judged by the red or blue of their party banner, but by the content of their character.”

    Reply
  9. Craig H.

    If you have never been to Alabama and you like to travel you might want to check it out. Nearly every person I have met from Alabama is pretty fine. I am sure most would much rather beat Clemson in the college football championship semifinal but many are having small restrained parties tonight nevertheless.

    One of the greatest Muscle Shoals tunes ever:

    Boz Scaggs Loan Me a Dime

    (Boz and a lot of the players not from Alabama but maybe no song comparing to this was ever recorded elsewhere)

    You know I cried just like a baby all night long

    Reply
    1. voteforno6

      With the great Duane “Sky Dog” Allman playing guitar…

      Allman also played guitar on Wilson Pickett’s fabulous version of “Hey Jude” (which has been credited with starting Southern rock), as well as Aretha Franklin’s version of “The Weight.”

      Reply
    2. RUKidding

      I have relatives in AL and just visited them this past summer – my first time back in AL since the very dramatically segregationist days of the ’50s. IMO, not much has changed. My rellies listen to a steady diet of Rush/rightwing talk radio; watch nothing but Fox; and are die-hard extremist Republicans.

      All around where they live I saw many, many, many Confederate flags hanging outside people’s homes.

      The area of AL where my relatives live – a small town near Gadston (famous for Moore being booted out of a mall for harassing teenage girls) – distinctly had no AAs that I ever saw in 5 days there. There are Hispanics in their area due to the chicken rendering plants (that’s another story currently being covered in This American Life).

      My rellies are “polite,” but I’m sure they’re racist to the core. I defintiely know that the AL side of their family were very overtly racist, and I doubt my cousins have strayed far from the party line.

      So, eh? Alabama residents are all just “pretty fine”? Well to quote that famous Southern joke: Well hooooow nice!

      Not so much.

      Reply
    3. Stupendous Man - Defender of Liberty, Foe of Tyranny

      Thank you for “Loan me a dime” link Craig. There a lot of things that are true about Alabama, some nice, and some not so much. But Muscle Shoals is an undeniable truth.

      Reply
  10. dk

    Interesting piece on the geological evolution of the “black belt.”

    http://www.deepseanews.com/2012/06/how-presidential-elections-are-impacted-by-a-100-million-year-old-coastline/

    As [Booker T.] Washington notes further in his autobiography, “The part of the country possessing this thick, dark, and naturally rich soil was, of course, the part of the South where the slaves were most profitable, and consequently they were taken there in the largest numbers. Later and especially since the war, the term seems to be used wholly in a political sense—that is, to designate the counties where the black people outnumber the white.”

    Reply
  11. timotheus

    While it is a wonderful outcome and a relief, it is still a bit depressing to see the vote totals by county and realize how utterly divided the state (country?) is: some white counties went for Moore by 70%, one by 80%. Overall, white voters were solid for the slavery-nostalgic.

    Reply
    1. Livius Drusus

      Rural and working-class whites feel like they are under siege. They feel like their religion is mocked and loathed by the elites in this country and that their economic fortunes are declining. At least on the last issue they are correct and have a legitimate grievance. The Bannon faction of the Republican Party offers these white voters a powerful version of identity politics and at least some concessions on economics like opposing more trade agreements.

      Some of these voters can be reached by an inclusive class-based party but we don’t have much of any class politics in this country and the recent election in Alabama was a blow to class-based politics as it looks like the Democrats won with their favored identity politics coalition of affluent suburban whites and high black turnout. Not a good sign for the future of the country if you are interested in defeating neoliberalism.

      Reply
      1. timotheus

        Perhaps rural and working-class blacks also feel like they are under siege especially when a prominent political candidate denounces the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution. And maybe they feel mocked and loathed by the elites as well and are even motivated by economic issues.

        Reply
        1. Lee

          To be fair, African Americans are more used to it. Many whites are only more recently so severely marginalized. Give ’em a break, they’re still in shock. They were used to thinking they were in a separate boat.

          Reply
      2. marym

        They feel like their religion is mocked and loathed by the elites in this country

        People of all religions believe things that secular-minded people, or people of other religions, don’t. Non-believers may often not know or care much about other religions; find them interesting as cultural expressions; or see them as naïve, but explicable as something comforting or inspiring.

        What’s being criticized about evangelical religious claims in 21st century US is hypocrisy, especially in what constitutes “pro-life” public policy and acceptable sexual behaviors; willful ignorance and rejection of science and reason on secular subjects; and evangelicals’ own willingness to have politicians use their religious beliefs as an instrument of cruelty, destruction of the commons, and intolerance.

        Reply
        1. Mac na Michomhairle

          No, I don’t think so.
          It is not simply a matter of differing opinions, when the ones who do the criticizing of you and your understanding of reality, and of your social forms and your intelligence and morality, are the power elite who control more and more aspects of daily experience and who do not need you in the slightest; when that criticism and contempt is pervasive in most forms of media; when you are, more and more, acted upon in ways you have almost no power to influence.

          Our own cosmopolitan, educated, professional culture (or whatever) is absolutely (almost) pervasive in the national conversation, so much so that we don’t see it as a set of assumptions and understandings that not all Americans share. We don’t see that it is pervasive. I’m not saying we should respect bigotry or anything–just that we should notice that we have specific assumptions and unspoken unrealized norms, and keep that in mind when we communicate with and comment on others.

          Reply
    2. Norb

      Until the economic foundations of racism are seriously addressed, this will continue to be the case. Until more people realize continued racism is a symptom of a greater social ill,namely systemic inequality, racism and it’s evils will continue to fester in the body politic.

      Although depressing, relief and satisfaction can be taken from the realization that every individual has the power to resist racism.

      Racism, just like overt acts of violence, need to be conditioned into the population. People are not born racist and killers. The few that are, are a minority. The sociopaths.

      Reply
      1. a different chris

        >The few that are,

        I don’t think anybody can literally be born a “racist”. They are born sociopaths, and culture directs them towards expressing it in racism and sexism.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          Mostly it depends on your parents predisposition towards racism, i’d say. Same with religion. How many people once captured by dogma of one flavor or another, trade it for another belief when they’re all grown up?

          Reply
        2. Deadl E Cheese

          The vast majority of bigots (above and beyond society’s baseline, of course) aren’t sociopaths or social dominators, they’re authoritarians. Authoritarians are driven by self-righteousness, conformity, conventionalism, hierarchical aggressiveness, and above-all else fear.

          Of course, before people start clucking their tongues at authoritarians, Patriotic Liberal America might want to realize that a lot of modern liberalisms’ tenets (nationalism, pessimistic pragmatism, disdain towards the South, neoliberalism, meritocracy) fuel authoritarianism just as surely as that of reactionaries.

          Reply
    3. RickM

      My bellwether last night was Talladega County. About 70-30, white-black. With two-thirds of that vote counted, Jones was up, and I told a friend out west that if Jones held on there, the final count would be 52-48, Jones over Moore. Jones eked it out in Talladega, but I forgot about the write-in votes for Nick Saban ;-)

      Reply
  12. Livius Drusus

    I am glad that Moore lost but I see the outcome as bad for anyone interested in developing a class-based politics. This election will be seen as vindicating the Democratic Party’s strategy of maxing out minority turnout and capturing enough well-educated whites (the much-vaunted moderate suburban Republicans) since it looks like the Democrats won with a combination of high black turnout and the defection of affluent suburbanites, the New Democrat dream coalition.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/13/us/politics/doug-jones-democrats-alabama.html

    Also, as much as I dislike Bannon and his faction of the Republican Party, at least they keep the issues that afflict the working-class on the radar. One of the few good things about Trump winning was that people started talking about the plight of working people, especially working people in so-called “flyover country.” Now the Democrats will feel justified in ignoring working-class whites as a hopeless and dying demographic. We can look forward to more identity politics elections in the future.

    My only hope is that this is just a fluke victory for the New Democrats given that Moore was such a terrible candidate. But I expect Jones’ victory to be interpreted as a victory for the neoliberal faction of the Democratic Party and their preferred electoral strategy so I can’t feel too happy about the outcome although I would have voted for Jones if I lived in Alabama.

    Reply
    1. fresno dan

      Livius Drusus
      December 13, 2017 at 6:15 am
      “This election will be seen as vindicating the Democratic Party’s strategy of maxing out minority turnout and capturing enough well-educated whites (the much-vaunted moderate suburban Republicans) since it looks like the Democrats won with a combination of high black turnout and the defection of affluent suburbanites, the New Democrat dream coalition.”

      I agree with your point Livius of how the dems will paint their victory. Dems attach themselves to the idea of repub suburban voters like leeches attach themselves to Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen – – and you remember what happened to the leeches?

      This is the first article I could find that gave some specific numbers to the demographics:
      https://www.cbsnews.com/news/alabama-senate-race-doug-jones-wins-special-election-results-2017-12-12-live-updating/

      Seems pretty apparent to me that the dem victory was due primarily to black voters. It will take more detailed analysis, but the best the dem strategy can say about suburban repubs is that it (MAYBE – perhaps it was do to “dating” 14 years olds???) got some to stay home….

      Reply
      1. Darius

        The Dems aren’t going to get another train wreck opponent like Moore again any time soon. So the suburban Republicans plus African Americans formula isn’t a panacea.

        I hope lefties get to Jones out of the box and get him to cosponsor Medicare for All and move on from there.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith Post author

          *Sigh*. You don’t have any evidence that “suburban Republicans” voted for Smith. Alabama has relatively few cities (Birmingham with a population of about 400,000 is the biggest) and their “suburbs” aren’t like the suburbs of bigger cities (the Gini coefficient is lower by virtue of the top layer being merely what would be upper middle class in bigger cities, not private-jet-flying rich). Turnout in this election was low, about 30%. Republicans are 52% of registered voters, Democrats 35%, and Independents 13%. The results can be attributed entirely to turnout. Moore’s margin over Jones dropped by about 20 points when the allegations of pursuing underage girls came out, and most commentators (as well as NC readers in Alabama) attributed that to Republicans withdrawing support (aka deciding to stay home) as opposed to switching sides. Moreover, the sea of Jones signs I saw out said the Democrats were unusually motivated.

          Reply
          1. John Zelnicker

            @Yves – Agree completely. I see 2 factors as determinative: African-American turnout in the Black Belt counties across the lower half of the state, and it seems that many Republicans stayed out the election or wrote in someone like Nick Saban. (There were Facebook ads pushing this strategy, apparently.)

            The number of write-ins was greater than Jones’ margin of victory.

            Reply
      2. Anonymous

        The Dems outspent Moore by more than 2:1 ($11.5M: $5.2M).

        Moore was a divisive figure with some dirt on him. All that combined made him vulnerable
        to opponents turning up to vote and marginal supporters sitting it out.

        The Dems have 25 senate seats to defend in 2018 vs. 10 for the GOP. Reading this as a trend
        is a stretch on fantastical thinking only the DNC could manage.

        Reply
    2. PKMKII

      There’s no problem with appealing to minority voters if it’s being done by presenting an agenda and history of working towards their real-world concerns and needs. Which, as much as it was overshadowed by Moore’s sexual misconduct, Jones had provided in running on convicting those KKK members of killing the innocent black children. If anything, this throws cold water on the Dem establishment’s “Go after rich white voters disaffected by Trump” strategy, as that wasn’t a prominent demo in the election, but the black vote was.

      Reply
  13. financial matters

    Trump has some interesting problems if you consider that he is opposed by establishment Republicans, main street media, establishment Democrats and Bernie Sanders. How did he get elected?
    I like his efforts against the status quo which may in part be responsible for things settling down in Syria.

    But given the recent tax bill and his apparent assault on the social safety net I am glad to see this Democrat get elected to slow this down.

    I think the best thing for Trump would be to try and actually help the ‘deplorables’ which in my mind would be to partner with people who want to create good jobs and support single payer.

    I liked it early on when he was talking with Tulsi Gabbard.

    Reply
  14. Abigail Caplovitz Field

    I am grateful for Moore’s loss, but I think it says very little about other elections. I think this loss was personal. I think *Roy Moore* was rejected. Based on FiveThirtyEight, deep red white rural voters stayed home, while Democratic turnout was better than to be expected, and the write in vote was the margin of victory. That means to me that the R ‘I don’t like either’ people stayed home, or did a write in. The Ds could not have been motivated to turn out in higher than normal numbers b/c Jones was so great; they had to have been anti-Moore (and why not, from teenage predation to slavery nostalgia and much more).

    I don’t think this election was about what either candidate or party stood for; I think Luther Strange would’ve been a shoe in. To the extent this election has any implication for other races, it’s that in red/purple states, Rs need to be careful about their primaries–there’s a limit to the horrible/crazy that voters will accept. But that’s not a new lesson.

    And I admit I take some real joy in a voters delivering a *personal* rejection of Moore.

    Reply
    1. vlade

      I’d say that this has impact on other elections, because it was “candidate Trump” that lost – endoresed by Trump and Bannon. This _might_ enourage any sane (if there are any left), or probably even semi-sane Republicans to go against Trump. For example, if Moore won, the tax-bill would be a shoe-in, now it’s getting complicated again (and that’s even though Jones might not get to vote on it), given the bill’s massive unpopularity.

      Reply
      1. Abigail

        And I just think that Moore’s loss despite those endorsements reflects just how much people did not want to vote for him. Again, Strange would have won. Only if these results meant something vis a vis a Strange v. Jones election would I think it had particularly strong implications. Remember, Trump had endorsed Strange and Strange lost. I don’t think voters change their minds based on endorsements, except perhaps from undecided.

        Reply
        1. vlade

          The issue is less with voter and more with Trump/Bannon/Republican civil war. Trump hates losing. Losing a primary is not really losing for Trump – this is more (especially because of Bannon/Breit).

          Reply
      2. Martin Finnucane

        Now watch that Democrat guy turn around and vote for the Repub tax bill, in the name of centrist pragmatism, reaching across the aisle, adult in the room, blah blah blah.

        Reply
    2. Jim Haygood

      Evidently Trump is not a very good judge of character. In Roy Moore perhaps he saw someone who resembles himself.

      Trump also seems to have a particular affinity for Alabama. Maybe because its flag with the red Cross of St Andrew is basically the flag of Florida (minus the seal) which flies over Mar-a-Lago.

      He thought Alabama loved him. :-(

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        Trump was for Moore’s opponent in the primary. Doubtless he came around for Moore because any Republican loss would make him look bad.

        Reply
  15. Randall Stephens

    The most troubling aspect of this election in my mind was the abandonment of critical thinking by both extremes. This isn’t the first example of such abandonment, just the most recent. I’m saddened every time.

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      Uh, let me introduce you to something called “politics”. See that mat by the door? Leave all your illusions about purity, thoughtfulness, factual arguments, and the like there.

      And to start, where did you get the “both extremes” idea? There are two major types of politicians:

      1) extreme (Roy Moore, unfortunately in this environment Bernie Sanders)
      2) blank slate, hope you vote for me because I kissed some baby or other and didn’t kiss some babe that wasn’t my wife (Doug Jones)

      HTH

      Reply
      1. Randall Stephens

        I was referring to the electorate, not the politicians. In the last weeks of this special election there were folks willing to overlook any defects, and/or sins, of Roy Moore, truth be damned, as well as folks that considered him guilty without permitting him any rights to due process, or trial. Neither of those extreme viewpoints exhibits what I consider to be critical thinking.

        Reply
  16. Norb

    On the positive side, this election is another example illustrating the time is right for the formation of a true Labor party in America. Starting from the premise that the majority of people in the country are Not inherent racists or religious extremists, a political party that focused on uniting people along class lines instead of personal identity issues would make great inroads.

    Working people around the country are loosing faith in the corporate narrative of trickle down economics- even though they cannot conceive of an alternative to capitalist organization. They still fear the Communist/Socialist menace, but are unable to reconcile continued US failures regarding China and Russia, still viewed as communist bastions even though they are beating capitalist US at its own game.

    US empire is on its downward trajectory, and the uniting force that needs to bring the country together in order to deal with these changing events should not be appeals to violent Nationalism, but peaceful cooperative action best addressed through worker solidarity. The citizenry is dying to vote For Something instead of endlessly voting the lesser of two evils, or being one issue voters.

    The terrain is remarkably open for such an occurrence. The worse the economy treats the majority of voters, one issue voters will become more responsive to class narratives- or just stay home.

    Severe economic or natural setbacks will also open the door for this worker solidarity narrative to take hold. A plan must be ready in the wings though to take advantage. The one issue voters should be worker solidarity- not identity politics. The economic elite promote those issues to keep a failed corporatism going.

    Reply
  17. TarheelDem

    This election says more about Doug Jones, who is far from a blank slate. A prosecutor who picks up a cold case of a hate crime and successfully prosecutes Klan members, ensuring that jury nullification of lynching doesn’t happen in Alabama is not a blank slate either to folks looking to end racism in Alabama or to bigots. Roy Moore lost Republican turnout. Doug Jones got black turnout. The pattern on the map last night was what Democrats must do to win.

    Will Democrats automatically do the right things to win in 2018. Not unless they get more candidates like Doug Jones. This is Jones’s first excursion into the legislative branch. His performance in prosecuting bombers of abortion clinics, the Atlanta Olympics, and black churches worked quickly and got justice.

    Democrats need candidates like Doug Jones for every seat. And Jones has an understanding of how to run a campaign geographically in a state, seemingly a lost art in the Democratic Party.

    Both factions of Democrats at the moment are so busy playing cuckoo that they are not preparing for primaries or effective policies. Any major victories will come from the local up and likely have to beat back the DC hangers on and avoid DNC money. Perez won’t like that because from his perspective the wrong people will be winning. And the people who want to win on policy as well just winning office are not going to be telling Perez what they are up to. They will just be flooding a lot of “losing” races and trying to figure how to win without national help.

    When it hurts is when DC tosses them an anchor.

    Reply
    1. marym

      And props to Jones last night for calling for funding of CHIP. It’s not Medicare for All, but for someone accused by his opponents of wanting to “murder babies” it’s an excellent issue with which to start his Senate career.

      Reply
      1. allan

        From Alan Rappeport‏ @arappeport:

        Collins says of delaying a tax vote, “Luther Strange has been casting votes despite having lost his primary, so I don’t see a need for that.”

        Compare and contrast:

        Jacob Leibenluft‏ @jleibenluft:

        John McCain was extremely clear the day after Scott Brown’s election in 2010 that all legislating on health care should stop until Brown was seated (Congressional record snippet from 1/20/10 below) …

        File under Elections Have Consequences Except When They’re Not Allowed To.

        Reply
        1. marym

          Collins too.

          She said at the time that Congress should “start from scratch.” Also whined about the “behind closed doors” process that had her and Snowe on tv seemingly endlessly during the Baucus hearings.

          Reply
    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I will say this again: he is a blank slate as far as the overwhelming majority of issues facing a Senator are concerned. His record as a prosecutor is estimable but say nothing re his position on economic issues, regulation of financial firms and net neutrality, monopoly policy, military spending, foreign affairs, and the environment, for starters.

      Reply
  18. Ptolemy Philopater

    I think it is finally dawning on Trump country that he and the Republicans far from being the Great White Hope are the same gang of Plutocrats raping the country since the election of Ronald Reagan and before.

    No Mexican Wall, No Healthcare Reform, No reversal of US de-industrialization, No trillion $$$ infrastructure projects, what Trump and the Republicans rush to do is cut taxes for the plutocrats and raise taxes on the middle class. It is beginning to dawn that Trump is a fraud and his only purpose in getting elected was to get rid of the Estate Tax on his family saving them billions.

    There will be a wave election in 2018. It is more important now then ever to get truly progressive candidates on the ballot and displace the corporate Democrats who put the Left into disrepute by also serving the same Plutocrats.

    Reply

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