Hopefully, most of you reading this got at least a few hours of sleep after the counting was (mostly) finished in Alabama. I went to bed when there was barely 5% of the vote in (because I’m old and get up ridiculously early) so I had to learn about it this morning. But before I even turned on the television or fired up my laptop I was confident of one thing… if Doug Jones pulled off the upset there was going to be a pile of commentary pieces waiting for me declaring the end of the Republican Party.
I certainly didn’t have to wait long for that prediction to come true. You can find any number of these pieces online right now (see here, here and here to get started), some published so quickly that they’d obviously been written well in advance. (No doubt alongside alternate, now deleted columns bemoaning how Alabama was a sign of the GOP being beyond redemption. They should publish all of those in a book one of these days since we won’t get to see them now.) Here’s one example from Albert Hunt at Bloomberg, who claims that Republicans Now Have a Reason to Panic. (Emphasis added)
Democrats won a special Senate election in deeply conservative Alabama, narrowing the Republicans’ slim majority in the chamber, and likely generating political panic and infighting among scared Republicans…
The result is a rebuke to President Donald Trump, who, defying much of the party establishment, embraced Moore’s candidacy.
True, Moore was a profoundly flawed candidate. But a statewide Democratic victory in a Republican stronghold like Alabama, coming only weeks after banner results for Democrats in Virginia and elsewhere, suggests that all the political momentum and enthusiasm is against Trump and Republicans. The Jones win was facilitated by a very good turnout among African-Americans…
Things could change over the next 47 weeks, but this political climate augurs badly for Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections, when they will be defending majorities in both houses.
There’s plenty more, but you get the general idea. The Democrats have turned Alabama blue because Trump and the Republicans are so unpopular! At this rate, by January of 2019 the Democrats will probably hold a veto-proof majority of 70 seats in the Senate and 350 in the House!
Then there was this from Chuck Todd on Twitter just a little while ago.
One thing shouldn't get lost here for GOPers, don't dismiss AL as just a "Roy Moore" issue. The fact of the matter is, Jones would have gotten 45% against anyone in THIS national climate. THAT should be a warning sign enough for the GOP re: Trump impact.
— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) December 13, 2017
With all due respect to Chuck, that means that the wall-to-wall, non-stop sexual assault stuff only cost Roy Moore four and a half points? In the same state where Jeff Sessions won in 2014 with 97% of the vote because the Democrats didn’t even bother to field a candidate. Where Richard Shelby won in 2010 by a 65 to 34 margin. (Yes, that’s more than a 30 point spread.) Perhaps we should all just take a moment.
For everyone seeing these high-octane articles this morning, please pour yourself your normal cup of coffee, grab a donut and some bacon and just relax.
In honor of the stupendous (Moore or Jones) victory, I am declaring tomorrow National Donut and Bacon Day.
— Jazz Shaw (@JazzShaw) December 13, 2017
The Democrats won a seat in Alabama last night which they should never have come within a country mile of. Congratulations. Enjoy the seat until January of 2021, which is precisely how long you will hold onto it. The only thing that victory demonstrated was that the Alabama Republican Party got stuck with one of only a handful of Republicans who could have conceivably lost that race. And even then, the only reason Roy Moore failed was the Washington Post article on alleged sexual assault which appeared mere weeks before the final vote. Even with his history of having been removed from the bench as a judge and all of the “inflammatory” remarks dredged up from the opposition research folder, he still would have cruised to an easy win were it not for those stories.
So how does the GOP recover in Alabama? That’s a non-issue. Every vote that Doug Jones takes with the Democrats (and there will be plenty) will be recorded and played in a loop in campaign ads all through 2020. The scripts will write themselves. As for finding a candidate to run against Moore, sure, they can have a primary in 2020 if they like. Or, ,if they want to change the rules up a bit they can send the state party chair out to find a drunken woman passed out in an alley next to some bar whose career as a barback never advanced to the level of bartender because she was constantly caught taking free samples of the owner’s wares. (Make it a woman to cut down on the odds of the Washington Post finding a #MeToo story a few weeks before the general election.) They could wake this sot up and ask her five questions:
- Is your surname name Moore or anything which sounds vaguely like Moore?
- Are you a resident of Alabama?
- Are you more 30 years of age or older?
- Are you a Republican?
- Have you ever been convicted of a felony or been involved in any sort of sexual assault or harassment?
If the drunk can somehow manage to honestly answer those questions with, “No. Yes. Yes. Yes. No” and have those answers stand up to vetting, then she will beat Doug Jones by 15 points in his reelection bid. Twenty points if she looks halfway decent in a freshly dry cleaned pants suit after a trip to see a stylist.
All of this isn’t to say that the results of this election won’t cause problems. For at least all of 2018, it’s going to mean one less Republican that the GOP can afford to lose on major votes and probably more time for the Veep to spend in the Senate waiting to break ties. But it’s not as if Mitch McConnell has been all that successful in keeping the GOP herd in the same pen anyway, so that may be negligible.
The media will play this as a big loss for Trump (and in fact they already are) because he first backed Luther Strange and then Roy Moore, with both of them going on to lose. Is that going to bother the President or change his general approach to governance? You can all stop laughing now… we get it. Sure, the endorsement was a dumb idea for any standard politician who is easily embarrassed by such things, but that’s just not Trump.
If you want to see the Republicans actually begin to panic, have the Democrats pick up a half dozen seats in the Senate next November and take back the House. I’m not saying that’s impossible because it’s happened to plenty of first-term presidents before. But looking at the electoral math, the Democrats have a lot of work ahead of them and there are far more opportunities for the GOP than their opponents. The bottom line is that nothing changed in Alabama last night. It’s still Alabama and the status quo will be reestablished there once the voters have another chance to vote for someone not named Roy Moore.
The original article was edited to reflect that Senate candidates need to be 30 years old, not 25 years.