If you follow the national news media, there is no doubt that Roy Moore is likely to withdraw from the Alabama Senate race any day now. After the Washington Post stories reporting allegations from at least eight women who said that Moore behaved improperly toward them when they were teenagers – one only 14. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Republican National Committee have all withdrawn their support and fundraising power from Moore.
S.E. (for Sara Elizabeth) Cupp, the bright, witty and pretty host of a Headline News program and a conservative writer, opined that if Fox News commentator Sean Hannity came out against Moore, it would probably force Moore out of the race. (Hannity waffled and it had no effect.)
But that’s not how it is in Alabama.
“I have not picked up anything about Moore stepping aside,’ says Glenn Browder, Emeritus Professor at Jacksonville State University in Alabama and a former congressman (D). “Roy Moore has never backed down on anything.” Browder adds,” The mood in Washington is nowhere kin to the mood in Alabama… It’s Trump redux in Alabama. Moore is Alabama’s version of Trump. Trump has everybody after him. Democrats want to beat him, Republicans don’t want him, and the media is against him, but still Trump wins.”
As for stepping aside, as McConnell urged, Moore tweeted, “The person who should step aside is Mitch McConnell. He has failed conservatives and must be replaced.”
Moore does have some support on the national level. President Trump has stayed out of the contest, saying it’s for the voters of Alabama to decide, which helps Moore somewhat. Steve Bannon, former White House advisor to Trump, and subject of much media attention, has stood by Moore.
It’s another story in Alabama. Alabama’s governor, Kay Ivey (R), Secretary of State John Merrill and the state Republican Party are all still with Moore.
“I believe in the Republican Party, what we stand for, and most important, we need to have a Republican in the United States Senate to vote on things like the Supreme Court justices, other appointments the Senate has to confirm and make major decisions,” Ivey said, according to AL.com. “So that’s what I plan to do, vote for Republican nominee Roy Moore.”
US Rep. Mo Brooks (R) also supports Moore. Brooks came in third in the primary against Moore and US Sen. Luther Strange (R).
As far as a write-in candidate goes, it “would surely elect Jones,” says Browder. Besides being difficult to run, “It takes a perfect storm. I don’t think we have a perfect storm in Alabama today, because most people are angry, but divided into two camps.”
The most recent poll, conducted for Fox News, showed Jones with 50% to 42% for Moore, a significant lead for the Democratic nominee, and the Real Clear Politics average for six polls since the allegations about Moore came out was 46.5% for Jones to 46.3% for Moore.
Marty Connors, former Republican state chairman, says “The court of public opinion is probably the safest jury. We’re going to nail up plywood on the windows and ride out the storm.” He adds, “The people of Alabama don’t like being told what to do. I sense a lot of defiance out there.”
“You tell Alabamians what they can’t do, they sure as hell will do it,” says Natalie Davis, Birmingham Southern political scientist who ran for the US Senate as a Democrat in 1996. Before the scandal erupted, “I said it would be won or lost in the suburbs. I still think that’s the story,” says Davis. She adds, “It looks better for Doug Jones now… His ads are pitch perfect, featuring ‘real people’ saying ‘I usually vote Republican, but not this time.’ Moreover, “Jones had the airwaves all to himself for six weeks, ‘feel good’ stuff.”
Republican Connors says, “Roy Moore never got the votes of the bridge-playing Republicans… the evangelicals and others are sticking by him;.” He adds, “One question: What do the marginal or non-church going Republicans do? Vote or stay home, realizing that tax cuts, judicial appointments and other issues are at stake?”
As for the allegations against Moore, noting Moore’s previous statewide races against Bob Riley for governor, Bob Vance for the state Supreme Court and Luther Strange for the Senate, Connors asks, “How did all of this escape them?” (Connors says that after making similar comments in a CNN interview, he got threatening emails and Facebook messages, one threatening to kill him and his entire family. It’s rough out there.)
“I think he squeaks by,” concludes Connors. “Then we find out what really happened, and the Republicans will take care of it.”