WaPo ponders: Is one Senate seat in Alabama really that important?

Clearly somebody thinks that the answer to the title question is yes. And the somebody in question is the RNC since they’ve now announced that they will be reinstating their support for Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race following the endorsement of President Trump. They no doubt see the risk in doing this, but are willing to suck it up in the interest of keeping that seat out of the hands of the Democrats in 2018. (The Hill)

The Republican National Committee is reinstating its support of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore after initially cutting ties over allegations of sexual misconduct, a source close to the RNC told The Hill on Monday.

Breitbart News first reported that the RNC had decided to step back into the race just hours after President Trump fully endorsed the candidate.

The timing of this decision is an appetizer for the flame war of the day, particularly when the editorial board at the Washington Post just published a finger-wagging piece deriding the idea that one Senate seat was really worth dragging everyone through the mud of the Moore sexual assault allegations. After dredging up the claims made by Moore’s accusers yet again, Team WaPo phrases their “concerns” thusly:

None of them have reason now to lie.

This is the man Mr. Trump has decided he needs in the Senate. Alabama voters must decide if they agree. Is it so important to have a senator who will vote the president’s way on tax cuts or judicial appointments that they are willing to be represented by a person who would do such abhorrent things to young girls?

We can set aside for the moment the fact that the Washington Post has now found Roy Moore guilty while he still maintains innocence and no judge or jury has considered the question. As we’ve discussed here in the past, the bar is definitely lower for decisions being made by voters than cases involving sending someone to jail. (But how much lower?)

What this comes down to, both for the RNC and, if we’re to be honest, the editors at the Washington Post, is the question of just how vital it is to keep that Senate seat in GOP hands. It would be interesting to see a companion piece from the Washington Post about how they have no interest whatsoever in seeing Republicans lose control of the Senate majority, or at least make their grasp even more tenuous. Perish the thought! I’m sure they could care less and are simply arguing on a matter of principles. (/sarc)

But there’s obviously a lot at stake. Last night Allahpundit was writing about the seemingly self-defeating decision made by Donald Trump in tossing his support behind Moore at this late stage. I agree with most of what he said, at least from a strictly tactical, sanitized perspective. If Moore goes on to lose, it’s an embarrassment for Trump since his endorsement will have twice proven ineffective in Alabama. (Once for Luther Strange and now for Moore.) And if Moore wins, Trump is saddled with that endorsement if more accusations arise and Moore somehow eventually winds up being sanctioned or ejected.

But it’s looking less and less like Moore is going to lose. The most recent polling average assembled by Alabama.com indicates that Moore is holding onto a roughly three point lead with barely a week to go. Granted, there are a multitude of reasons to distrust the polling in this race. It’s a special election right before Christmas which may yet produce turnout so low that virtually anything could happen. It’s also impossible to gauge how many poll respondents are either Moore supporters who are gunshy about saying so out loud or Republicans who are going to vote for Doug Jones but don’t want to risk their neighbors hearing about it.

In the end, however, it comes back to the question the Washington Post posed at the top. Is that one seat all that important? I’ll retread what I said on the subject last month:

Roy Moore losing the election may taste like justice for some of you, but it’s something of a disaster for at least the next fourteen months in terms of the congressional wars to come. A Moore victory still leaves you with options after he’s sworn in, no matter which side you come down on. Call that a deal with the devil if you like, but none of these scenarios seem as bad as Doug Jones winning in my mind. At least not in the long run.

Nothing has happened to change my view on that. With the Senate in such a near-deadlock state right now, one seat is vastly important on a variety of pressing issues and I don’t see anyone else taking that much of a beating in the midterms for Moore’s presence if they weren’t actively cheering for him. Moore can be dealt with later if it becomes obvious that he’s guilty of the more serious charges, but even if he’s ejected the seat will wind up in the hands of a less controversial Republican, not a Democrat. So for now, it’s just game on.