Alabama delivered a tectonic shift in American politics last night in the U.S. Senate race with Democrat Doug Jones winning by a small margin in a solidly Republican state. A Democrat hasn’t won statewide in Alabama in 25 years, and it was a state that gave Donald Trump a nearly 30-point victory in the 2016 presidential election.
So what happened and what does it mean?
The people of Alabama rejected Roy Moore, a terribly flawed candidate who assumed, along with many morally compromised Republicans, that Alabamians would choose party and policy over principle and moral compass. They did not. Alabama chose decency and good old American family values instead of political expediency.
Moore was a horrible candidate from the start, having a history of racism, homophobia, misogyny and extremism that did not represent the best of Alabama. Then came the jaw-dropping credible accusations of child molestation and sexual assault.
While many Republicans, evangelicals and Donald Trump tried to look away, ignore or degrade the women who accused Moore of pursuing and assaulting them when they were teenagers, Alabamians, establishment Republicans, Trump’s own daughter Ivanka and decent Americans everywhere could not abide Moore’s abhorrent behavior.
Doug Jones won 21 percent of independents and got a share of moderate Republicans. Importantly, African-American voters over-performed and came out in droves for the Democratic candidate. Write-ins were also a big part of Jones’s victory.
Enough Republicans were disgusted with their own candidate, including Alabama’s senior U.S. senator, Richard Shelby. Shelby announced on Sunday that he would not be voting for Moore and had written in another Republican name; that gave wide latitude to many Republicans and conservatives in Alabama to write-in another name.
That made a big difference and, among other factors, helped tilt the election to Jones.
Then there was President Trump who, at the advice of his former adviser, Stephen Bannon, went all in for Moore, campaigning for him in Pensacola, Fla., recording a get-out-the-vote robocall and tweeting…