Alabama Autopsy: How to Lose an Election

Roy Moore is no Cleavon Little

Roy Moore is No Cleavon Little

Cleavon Lewis: The Sheriff in Blazing Saddles

Did Alabama citizens vote for decency or against an old southern stereotype? Many Christian conservatives and others will walk in confusion today. They will ask each other, “How could Roy Moore be rejected when allegations against him have never been proven in court?”

Roy Moore advocates focused on one issue with Doug Jones, late term abortions. Likewise, they believed that the sexual harassment issue was the only reason Roy Moore was being objected to by both Democrats and Republicans.

The high black voter turn-out provides a good lesson for us all. More black Americans in Alabama voted in this Special Election than did in the 2012 General Election that featured Barack Obama.

“As Cook Political Report editor Dave Wasserman noted on Twitter, turnout was particularly high in the counties with the highest black populations. In Greene County, a small, 80-percent-black area that Martin Luther King, Jr., frequented in his Poor People’s Campaign, turnout reached 78 percent of 2016 turnout, an incredible mark given that special elections and midterms usually fall far short of general-election marks. Perry County, also an important mostly black site of voting-rights battles of old, turned out at 75 percent of 2016 levels. Dallas County, whose seat is the city of Selma, hit the 74 percent mark. And while the exact numbers aren’t in for all of the majority-black or heavily black counties, it appears black voters favored Jones at rates close to or above 90 percent. (Source: The Atlantic)

Black turnout was driven not by the sexual harassment claims but by the fodder Moore provided that he spoke as a dangerous bigot. Republicans focused on negating sexual harassment claims while Democrats out spent and out messaged the Republican party on issues black Alabamians truly cared about.

Roy Moore’s antics and rhetoric gave Democrats the fuel to add to the fire. Democrats lauded Doug Jones’ record of fighting the KKK while Roy Moore fell into the trap of edifying America’s greatness during a period of slavery. As expected, the Democrats didn’t allow the opportunity to drive black Americans to the polls. Roy Moore was more than willing to kick a cultural hornets nest by making a public statement that he would have ended the Constitution of the United States at the 10th Amendment (the 13th Amendment freed the slaves and the 15th gave black Americans voting rights). Sadly, he and his followers are largely unaware of what happened. The bravado that Moore was invincible was great. (Quotes on how Moore would certainly win were oblivious to the budding uprising amongst black American voters in Alabama.) This condition of living in a tribal bubble detached from the thoughts and concerns of black Americans essentially led to a sneak attack on Republican loyalists. They didn’t see it coming because they didn’t see that all voters matter. The Moore campaign was either limited in engagement or non-existent.

And it wasn’t just blacks who felt concerned about Moore. He was also disliked by principled Christian conservatives who were embarrassed by what they considered southern stereotype antics. Many white American lifelong Republicans from Alabama rejected Moore’s brand. Many also opted out and stayed home. An outcome decisive 1.7% of the voters wrote in their own candidate.

Alabama Voting 2016–2017

In 2016 Alabama Republicans turned out for Trump with 1,318,255 voters. In this 2017 election Roy Moore drew less than half that number. Meanwhile, Democrat Doug Jones drew voting numbers only 100K less than Hilary Clinton’s 2016 Alabama numbers.

It’s about differences in the values game.

Pro-life candidate who is a bigot = Losing proposition

Trump Tax Plan candidate who is a bigot = Losing proposition

Riding Sassy the Horse as a bigot = Losing proposition

Bigotry is a scarlet letter that will trump any message you send, including alleged harassment of underaged girls. Whether you attribute the disconnect to cultural style, mis-communication, or nefarious intent, more and more voters are looking for inclusive candidates.

Black Americans and a growing number of all demographics will not consider issues like abortion when they feel personally and socially negated by white conservative leaders. Even black conservative Christians who make personal acknowledgement of an amoral Democrat party question if the grass is greener on the Republican side.

How deaf does partisan tribalism make us?

As Moore fans argue “fake news” attacks about a yearbook and a 14-year old girl, facts related to how Moore was twice removed from the bench was all but ignored.

Republicans have struggled to advance the grand ole party’s hold in changing demographics. In November 2016 the President of the United States positioned the Republican Party onto third base. The problem is, too many leaders and strategists thought they’d hit a triple when in fact it was Donald J. Trump who swung the bat. Trump’s unique brand is his alone and presented a false healthiness of the body politic. It is clear that there is a viral strain of voter engagement lethargy impacting Republican national elections. I call the budding virus TCS, Trump Complacency Syndrome. Alabama and Virginia are gifts of early detection. It is not too late to inject the anti-virus before 2018.

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