Tuesday, December 12, 2017

One of Those Watershed Moments

I have to admit that I'm going to miss the Roy Moore campaign. It's been a primer on where the Republican Party has parked its identity in the Age of Trump. Those reminders are both necessary and, lucky for us, numerous. Who is the Trump/Moore Republican? He's a soldier -- defiantly reactionary, divisive by prime instinct, preacher-perfect at denouncing other people's sins while personally wearing no underwear, and sentimental about slavery.

That's what made this Kayla Moore moment last night in Midland City so ... solid. The film is going to live forever.

Doug Jones can win this thing. I discount all polls on this race, including the Fox News one yesterday that had Jones up by 10 points, because how do you model who's going to actually show up and vote? The Alabama secretary of state predicted "a modest turnout of 20 to 25 percent" — surprising, given all the national media attention and the fact that voter turn-out was about 64 percent in the 2016 presidential election. Not surprising though, given the depressing downer nature of the whole campaign. The religious right is turned on by Roy Moore, and of course Democrats are ecstatic about how well Doug Jones has done, but a wide middle swath of not-particularly-engaged voters, including many educated Republicans, have been turned off by the spectacle of Moore, are embarrassed about him, and they either won't vote at all or they'll write in someone else's name (and maybe a few of them will even vote for the Democrat because they no longer believe in Hell).

Reportedly, African-American voters aren't energized about Jones, though major national political figures and celebrities like Charles Barkley have stumped the state. Last night, Jones got "an implicit boost, of a sort," from Condoleezza Rice, who without ever mentioning Doug Jones by name (or Roy Moore either), called on Alabamians to “reject bigotry, sexism and intolerance” and “insist that our representatives are dignified, decent and respectful of the values we hold dear.” Rice is a native of Alabama and maybe still has family there.

Based on what happened nationally with so many suburban, nominal Republicans and independent voters back on November 7, Jones could win it with the growing urban/suburban centers like Birmingham and Montgomery and Huntsville, especially if African-Americans don't sit at home and enough moderate Republicans either do stay at home or throw their vote in any direction but Moore's. The Democrats have been working hard while Moore's got no ground game and has been totally absent from the campaign for days at a time, including all of the past six days before his rally last night, when Mrs. Moore schooled everyone on who's a bigot. When a candidate acts like he doesn't need to work for it and doesn't show up with the public for days on end, do voters reward him with high office? Sometimes they don't.

Steve Bannon did his part at last night's rally, encouraging the booing of Republican Senator Richard Shelby, attacking both Condi Rice and Bob Corker, and then mocking Ivanka Trump's comments about Moore, that there's a special place in hell for people who sexually molest teenaged girls. Bannon has his entire reputation of king-maker and incipient political empire riding on this election today.

No comments: