Over the last few weeks I have been presuming that even with all the allegations of molesting or trying to date girls as young as 14, he was still going to win the election to take Jeff Sessions’ spot in the Senate. I am very pleasantly surprised to be wrong.
There are many things to say about this. First, it shows the importance of turnout. Off-year elections rarely get anywhere near the turnout of presidential elections, and special elections get even smaller turnout. Turnout was predicted to be about 25% for this election; it reached double that, with almost 1.3 million votes cast. That’s a huge turnout for this kind of election. And the turnout was larger in predominately black areas of the state than white areas, according to Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report:
Amazing: turnout is at 72%-77% of ’16 presidential race in heavily black counties, but just 55%-60% in rural white counties. Black voters punching above their weight tonight & giving Jones a chance. #ALSEN
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) December 13, 2017
And the New York Times noticed that early on:
Folks, our model thinks that the GOP may have a big turnout problem.
The three, white, GOP counties have fallen far short of our turnout estimates–including two under 75% of our estimates.
That’s what the big swing in our estimate is about.
— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 13, 2017
Second, this certainly harms Steve Bannon’s effort to combat more establishment Republicans with far-right candidates. He pulled out all the stops in supporting Moore and he convinced Trump to jump on the bandwagon too, something his other advisers didn’t want him to do. Given Trump’s famous temper in response to getting bad advice, one wonders if his might drive a wedge between Trump and Bannon.
Third, what it does to the Senate. Mitch McConnell says that Jones won’t be sworn in until after the first of the year, which he is only doing to ensure that Luther Strange gets to cast a vote on the tax bill instead of Jones. He knows that it will make it even more difficult to get legislation passed in the Senate with the Republican lead down to only one vote (plus Pence’s tie-breaker). They’ve accomplished very little in Trump’s first year in office and this reduces their chances of getting anything big done in his second year leading up to the midterms. It also makes it more likely that the Democrats can retake the senate in 2018.
Great news on every possible level.