Alabama voters doubt accusations enough that they may feel comfortable sending a message of contempt for Washington, both D.C. and Post
All the way back on November 21, 2017, I suggested that given the state of the Alabama Senate special election, Roy Moore was likely to win assuming no new allegations or proof of sexual misconduct came out.
In my post, If Roy Moore wins, thank Gloria Allred and Al Franken, I focused on Gloria Allred’s entry into the case and her refusal to produce for forensic inspection a yearbook allegedly containing Moore’s handwriting:
Based on the present state of affairs, and assuming there are no further revelations, it looks like Roy Moore will outlast the outrage over the accusations, which he denies, that he molested a 14-year-old girl and assaulted a 16-year-old girl almost 40 years ago….
If there was a turning point in Roy Moore’s political fortunes, it was the press conference Gloria Allred held with accuser Beverly Nelson, who emotionally described what she said was a sexual assault behind a diner at which she worked.
That press conference gave Moore two things he needed politically: a chance to make Allred an issue in the campaign, and a piece of physical evidence to attack, the handwriting in the yearbook.
That handwriting, which Allred and Nelson said was Moore’s, is disputed by the Moore campaign, and at least superficially it raises questions. As I noted even before the Moore campaign raised the issue, a proper forensic examination of the document requires examination of the original. The Moore campaign has requested an immediate independent examination….
All Moore needs to do politically is to call the accusations into question, to raise doubts, to turn it into a 40-year-old he said/she said dispute. The yearbook that was declared by the media to be proof of Moore’s guilt now has become that cloud obscuring possible guilt.
As of this writing, the yearbook still hasn’t been produced, Allred has gone to ground and hasn’t been heard from recently, and Moore continues to deny all accusations against him. There have been no new accusations or evidence. (Though I still would not be surprised if more comes out in the days leading up to the election.)
This blur on what happened, and a Trump not-so-subtle non-endorsement/endorsement of Moore, seems to be having an impact.
There isn’t a lot of polling on which to rely, but what polling there is shows a swing back to Moore, as this chart from Real Clear Politics shows:
A CBS/YouGov Poll released today not only shows Moore leading among the most likely voters, but more important, that Moore appears to have achieved what he needed to achieve to salvage his campaign, doubt in voters’ minds that the accusations against him are true:
A majority of Alabama Republican voters (53 percent) say the allegations against Moore are a concern, but that other things matter more. One-third of Republicans say the allegations are not a concern to them.
The poll describes a picture of many Republican voters choosing based on other issues: Half of Moore’s supporters say they are backing him mainly because they want a senator who will cast conservative votes in the Senate, rather than because they think Moore is the best person for the job….
The poll also found 49 percent of Moore voters say their Senate vote is in support of President Trump, and 23 percent of Moore voters say the president’s comments about the race, specifically, have made them more likely to back Moore.
Among all registered voters, the president has a 57 percent approval rating in the state. Among Moore’s voters, it is an astounding 96 percent approval.
Doug Jones does not appear to be drawing many crossover Republicans, which he would almost surely need in order to gain ground. Only 9 percent of Republicans say they’re voting for him.
A recent WaPo poll found Jones ahead by 3 points, but also found that voters were skeptical of the accusations against Moore:
The survey shows that the Alabama electorate is divided on the validity of the allegations against Moore. While 35 percent of likely voters think Moore did make unwanted advances on teenage girls, 37 percent say they are unsure or have no opinion. The smallest group — 28 percent of likely voters — say Moore did not make the advances that were alleged.
Women are more likely than men to find the allegations credible and to support Jones, with 41 percent of women saying Moore made unwanted advances compared with 28 percent of men saying the same. Moore leads by 15 points among men likely to vote, while Jones leads by 18 points among likely female voters.
There is also a stark partisan and ideological divide in how voters have processed the allegations, with many Republicans and GOP-leaning groups expressing skepticism.
Fewer than 1 in 6 Republican-leaning likely voters say they believe that Moore made unwanted advances toward female teenagers. That view is held among similarly small shares of white evangelical Protestants and those who say they approve of President Trump, who in recent days has questioned the allegations and urged Alabamians to prevent Jones from winning the seat.
If, as I predicted, Moore needed only to cloud the accusations in order to survive politically, he appears to have achieved that objective.
There is another indication that the race is swinging towards Moore, in the form of a Mitch McConnell walk-back of plans to expel Moore from the Senate should Moore win. McConnell would not be backtracking so much unless he read the tea leaves (or polling done for his Super Pac) and expected a Moore win.
Fox News reports:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared Sunday to soften his position on fellow Republican Roy Moore’s Alabama Senate bid, saying the voters should “make the call.”
The Kentucky Republican backed Luther Strange, Moore’s opponent in the GOP primary, then called for Moore to quit the general election race after several women last month accused him of sexual misconduct or behavior.
“I’m going to let the people of Alabama make the call,” McConnell on Sunday told ABC’s “This Week.” ….
“Roy Moore should step aside, the women who’ve come forward are entirely credible,” McConnell said last month. “He’s obviously not fit to be in the United States Senate, and we’ve looked at all the options to try to prevent that from happening.”
Overall, what appears to be happening is that Alabama voters have found enough doubt in the accusations that they feel comfortable sending a message to Washington — both to Washington, D.C. and The Washington Post.
If and when Moore wins, the pundits will opine on how poorly it reflects on Alabama voters that they would send to D.C. someone accused of child molestation and sexual assault. Those same pundits will not ask what it is about D.C. that would make voters send such a person.
The message, as Prof. Glenn Reynolds tweeted, is one of contempt:
Alabama will sent Roy Moore to the Senate for the same reason Caligula sent a horse: As a gesture of contempt.
(Caligula horse reference described here.)DONATE
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