There was some concern among Republicans that Strange, despite currently occupying the Senate seat that is being competed for, wouldn’t make the runoff. But he was able to maintain his advantage over Brooks in large part because of the backing of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund spent heavily on attack ads against Brooks during the campaign. Strange also got a last-minute endorsement of President Trump.
The question going into the runoff is whether McConnell’s and Trump’s backing will be enough to get Strange past Moore. The limited runoff polling that has been released so far shows Moore and Strange finishing first and second — just like they finished in the first round. And McConnell is a polarizing figure among Republicans. But Strange will have more time to trumpet his Trump endorsement, and the president could visit Alabama, where he is incredibly popular among Republicans. Still, that Moore won comfortably on Tuesday demonstrates that Trump’s pull may only mean so much and a lot of Republican primary voters are still looking for an outsider candidate.