A little more than 24 hours out from the first returns in Alabama, circumstances have conspired to make tomorrow a no-lose situation for Democrats and a no-win for Republicans. If Moore pulls through, or especially if he wins big, Dems will shrug it off on grounds that winning was always a longshot and will turn immediately to feasting on their new talking point about the GOP being the Party Of Roy. If Jones pulls the upset, they get to revel in Trump’s humiliation and start gaming out how they can make McConnell’s life even harder with a new, narrower 51/49 Senate.
For Republicans, it’s the opposite. If Moore loses, it’s a turnover in a state so red that virtually any no-name Republican could have held the seat without difficulty. Trumpers will bristle, not without reason, that moderates betrayed the party by crossing over for Jones. If Moore wins, McConnell gets to keep his current majority but now has to manage a new problem in which part of his caucus is disgusted by its newest member, who himself is an outspoken critic of the majority leader. And then it’ll be moderates who bristle, repulsed by a GOP that no longer seems to care about character in its candidates.
Win or lose, Wednesday will be a day of brutal recriminations for the right. RNC member Joyce Simmons of Nebraska couldn’t wait and has already bailed out.
“I strongly disagree with the recent RNC financial support directed to the Alabama Republican Party for use in the Roy Moore race. There is much I could say about this situation, but I will defer to this weekend’s comments by Senator Shelby,” she wrote in an email to fellow party officials. “I will miss so many of you that I knew well; and wish I could have continued my service to the national Republican Party that I used to know well.”
On Sunday, Alabama’s senior senator, Richard Shelby told CNN that his state deserves better than Moore and that he wrote in a candidate when he cast his ballot.
RNC members interviewed by the Weekly Standard were divided on Moore, some cheering him on, others recoiling. Maybe the RNC really *is* representative of the party! And what about chairman Ronna Romney McDaniel? She’s all aboard the Moore train, no? Well…
McDaniel has heard from donors infuriated by the move. At a dinner last week for nearly four dozen GOP donors, host Bobbie Kilberg, a well-connected Virginia Republican, told her — before the assembled crowd — that she opposed the decision.
“There are some things that are more important than a vote in the Senate,” Kilberg said in an interview. “Some things are more important, such as what the party stands for.”…
McDaniel herself has privately expressed unhappiness about investing on Moore’s behalf and felt blindsided by Trump’s decision to fully endorse him, said two people familiar with her thinking. But she feels she had little choice. The RNC, she has said, is the president’s de facto political arm.
If you missed it Friday, WaPo had a fun behind-the-scenes report on Trump’s deathless annoyance at Mitt Romney, having gone so far as to ask McDaniel — successfully — to drop “Romney” from her name professionally. (She’s Mitt’s niece.) Actual quote from the story: “Trump’s request to drop the maiden name, advisers said, came around the time he noted to others that ‘Romney’ often prompted boos at his events.” That’s a sign of a united party — the last nominee being lustily booed at the president’s rallies and his niece so conflicted that she feels obliged to acquiesce to a dopey request to change her name because of it. Jeff Flake signed his donation to Doug Jones, “Country over party.” For McDaniel, it’s party over family, I guess.
The polls are flying fast and furious today since it’s the eve of the election. Fox News’s bombshell showing Doug Jones up by 10 will get most of the ink but this new one from Monmouth is enjoyable purely as an exercise in how unpredictable the race is. Any poll’s outcome can be changed by tweaking assumptions about turnout, but how often does it change this dramatically?
NEW POLL: #AlabamaSenate 2017 (LV)
— MonmouthPoll (@MonmouthPoll) December 11, 2017
Big turnout? Jones wins. Low turnout? Piece of cake for Moore. Projected turnout? Dead heat. If you missed it over the weekend, Mark Blumenthal of SurveyMonkey found similar results with an even more dramatic range of possible outcomes, varying from a nine-point blowout for Jones to a 10-point blowout for Moore — coincidentally almost the same results that were produced by the Fox News and Emerson polls published this morning. Tomorrow’s election is unusually suspenseful because turnout appears to be a total mystery even to the experts. Prepare for anything — but count on recriminations in conservative media the day after.