Senator Jones

The next Senator from Alabama is Democrat Doug Jones. Who’d have thunk it?

There are a number of ways to “slice and dice” Jones’ victory in the Alabama special election. Gratifying as that win was–and it really, really was!–Roy Moore was a uniquely flawed candidate, and Alabama still came uncomfortably close to preferring a bigoted child molester and scofflaw to a principled and attractive Democrat.

On the other hand, a Democrat won a statewide race in Alabama–by several metrics, the Reddest state in the country.

There were dozens of excellent columns and opinion pieces yesterday morning parsing the implications of Jones’ victory. One of those, a column by David Von Drehle in the Washington Post, included a couple of important observations. Von Drehle noted that Jones had run a  campaign that honored the old adage “When your opponent is digging his own grave, don’t grab the shovel.”

What really caught my eye, however, was this:

The Jones victory is about a rising tide of Americans who won’t swallow the bilge President Trump is pushing. Make no mistake: If Trump and his would-be Pygmalion, Stephen K. Bannon, can’t sell their mix of cultural resentment and paranoia in Alabama, they will be hard-pressed to sell it anywhere.

In my opinion, that is one of two important “take aways” from Tuesday’s election.

Yes, Moore was an unusually revolting candidate, even for today’s GOP. Yes, a majority of white voters–primarily but not exclusively rural–stuck with him anyway. (Had it not been for the African-American voters who turned out despite the numerous voter suppression tactics aimed at keeping them home, Roy Moore would be a United States Senator.)

But this is Alabama, and context is important. Although Donald Trump won Alabama by 28 points, exit polling showed his favorable rating at 47%–and his unfavorable rating at 48%. Radio ads for Moore in the final days of the campaign were unabashedly racist and anti-Semitic (Jones and George Soros are trying to start a race war…)–were appeals to what Von Drehle politely calls “cultural resentment.” Yet even in dark-red Alabama, where the urban/rural divide is deep and racism institutionalized, Trump, Bannon and the politics of white nationalism weren’t enough to drag Moore across the finish line.

So, “take away” number one: hatred as a political strategy has a limited shelf life.

However, in my opinion, take away number two is the most important. This election reaffirmed a reality to which all politicians give lip service, but too few make the focus of their campaign efforts: turnout is critical. 

Republicans haven’t won elections by winning the hearts and minds of voters; they’ve won by suppressing Democratic turnout–by gerrymandering, passing ridiculous Voter ID laws, limiting polling places and hours, and similar tactics. (In Alabama, after passing a stringent Voter ID law necessitating trips to the state’s BMV branches, they closed the branches in black neighborhoods.) Those tactics lead voters to believe the results of elections are foreordained–a conclusion that further suppresses the vote.

What I read over and over as I followed the Jones-Moore contest was that Democrats were excited–if astonished– because they saw that winning was possible. My vote could actually count!! That excitement prompted previously apathetic Democrats to turn out; it also prompted efforts by the NAACP and other organizations to overcome the structural barriers erected to discourage African-American participation.

Unusually high Democratic turnout can overcome gerrymandering in districts drawn to be safe for Republicans, because those district lines are based on turnout estimates and those turnout estimates are based upon prior voting patterns.

Of course, it helps a lot when non-crazy reliable Republican voters are faced with a choice between a whack-job child molester and a good guy…Even in Alabama.


  1. Worth noting:
    Jones won by 1.5%
    Write in Votes totaled 2%
    Thank you SANE Republicans who voted that way
    They made a huge difference

  2. What did HRC not do? Her campaign neglected the grass roots, GOTV work; they threw money at media and neglected getting people on the ground to support volunteer run local Democratic orgs. The National Demo party was no better. They lost an election that could have been easily won. After last November Sanders has not stopped meeting with smaller groups across the country. Articulating his points of view. HRC is whining and writing still another book that only journalists and her most loyal supporters will read. The take away from NO MOORE? Want to win elections, you must have connected and motivated voters. African American’s driving to the polls. Being picked up and driven to the polls. People who may not have cars or much free time to vote. Citizens so discouraged that they have given up on our representative democracy, but person to person contact has reengaged them. IMO thanks to Trump, citizens now see the threat of neglecting their civic responsibilities. That may be the best thing Trump Bannon McConnell Ryan have done for our US of A.

  3. What strikes me about this political contest is that the candidates were each endorsed by a president… Moore by Trump and Jones by Obama. And Alabama voted for the candidate supported by the former black president… ALABAMA!

  4. I saw little of Senator-elect Doug Jones during the sickening religious “campaign tactics” for Roy Moore; no way to escape the “Breaking News” about his ugly statements and ridiculous antics as well as his highly questionable past as a sitting judge who was removed TWICE due to ignoring the law. What percentage of blame regarding other recent elections can be placed on this country’s obsession with S-E-X? The dirtier, the more interesting it seems to be. The higher placed the target of accusations, the more attention it garners. Look at Trump’s detractors through decades of being in the news and the number of accusers who came forward prior to and during his campaign. The same can be said for his luring racists, anti-Semitics, bigots and LGBTQ haters – more sex – out into the open. Southern states “snake handler” type of “old time religion” has always appeared to forgive, accept or deny the existence of sex abuse of children and incest “in them thar hills”. That religious faction came out in full force during the Moore campaign. Is this an indication that Pence’s Bible thumping, religious mania to control women’s health care decisions and the sex lives of “others” will be made stronger or will it pit Pence’s religion against that of southern states, who seem to be the current administration base, who accepted Roy Moore’s penchant for groping young girls as not being too abhorrent to tolerate?

    They tolerate and accept Trump’s years of actual sexual abuses with no redeeming factors but not Senator Al Franken’s admitted and apologized for poor judgement and unfunny attempts at sexual humor on a few occasions but his strong investigative skills and stand-up actions as a fine Senator were ignored. This is where the political party (and MONEY) comes into play; the Republicans have AGAIN come out in favor of and supporting candidates with low morals and virtually no humanitarian values, the results are obvious in their Congressional decision-making. Knowing the names of that 2% of write-in votes would tell us a lot about the Alabama voters and why their favored candidate lost what appeared to be apparent shoo-in election.

    That full front page newspaper showing Moore riding his trusty mount to the polls to vote with the huge headline statement, “Screw you & the horse you rode in on.” was the perfect ending to that election…or is it the end? Moore still has not conceded, like the gentleman he is NOT and never will be, and he may or may not be allowed to demand a recount. If the Alabama Attorney General can figure out their state law governing recounts. That demand for a recount by George W, also a Republican, was never in question but he had full Republican party support and Big Daddy’s money behind him.

  5. Great piece Ms. Kennedy. I think it will take a new, very carefully crafted, realistic, and clearly spoken Democratic platform to get people to the polls in the numbers that will be required to unseat Republicans in Indiana Districts and similar Districts throughout the country. It seems that Democrats need to re-invent themselves. Obviously there were some very devious things happening in the last presidential election that may well have turned the tide to create this nightmare, but I really believe that potential Democratic and Independent voters seemed to have been so bored with Clinton era politics that they were just not motivated enough to get out to vote against Trump and they didn’t care about who the candidates were for the other seats in contention in their locals. I really wonder how many people even have a clue how badly they are being screwed by that apathy right now? Hope MCV is right.

  6. I’m obviously happy Roy Moore will be keeping his horse company for the foreseeable future, but I have to say the results are still concerning.

    A Democrat prosecutor from Alabama (by definition a VERY conservative democrat – a Republican in most states) was only able to beat a twice removed from the bench child molester by 1.5%.

    Luther Strange was a lunatic too, but he would have walked to victory. I’m not sure if beating a child molester by the skin of your teeth is a very good sign. I mean, I guess there’s a line that only 48.5% of voters will cross (so, yay?), but that’s A LOT of voters willing to pick a truly abominable person.

  7. Of course it was Democrats and women both black and white who helped elect Jones but the real heroes and heroines of Tuesday night’s upset outcome were Republicans. Yes, Republicans. I refer to crossover votes by Republican women and especially those Republicans of both genders who voted by either write-in or staying home. They rightly could not stomach their own candidate’s sexual predation antics nor could they stomach a disheveled and self-professed Leninist (Bannon) and a clueless Trump one year after they voted overwhelmingly for him. They have had a year to see what their vote wrought, and they didn’t like the result. From a purely political point of view, of course, a Republican vote for a Democrat is better than a Democratic vote for a Democrat because you get a vote that your opponent does not – a two-for-one deal.

    There was one very red Republican county, for instance, which Moore should have carried by 30,000 votes based on past voting statistics. He carried it, but by far lower numbers. Had he carried that one county by the traditional count, we (and a fearful McConnell) would soon have a Senator Moore (aka Senator Mooreon) on the banks of the Potomac preying on interns.

    With a 15 point Democratic generic lead for Congress, we have a potential tsunami election coming up in 2018, one that will sweep aside both voter suppression and gerrymandering – if we can keep the fires raging. The country needs at least a Democratic majority in one house (and preferably both if we are to oust both McConnell and Ryan) as results of the upcoming 2018 election. Currently Trump and Bannon are helping us with their authoritarian blather, but with the schism in the Republican Party and billions from such as the Kochs and Mercers available in the runup to the election, a mild tsunami may not be enough. Our task, if we are to save our democracy (and perhaps our republic), is to redouble our resistance to the wannabe dictator sitting in the Oval Office.

  8. MCV: “What did HRC not do? Her campaign neglected the grass roots…”
    Someone is beginning to understand the mistake Hillary made, at least part of it. Her bobble–wait for it–was plain as early as March of 2016, and the danger of a Trump win if she did not change strategy was just as evident. I was able to see it, and I posted numerous warnings, but as “discerning” as I was then, today, I cannot understand why democrats everywhere do not yet see it. Especially troubling is knowing that democrats trained and practiced in campaign strategy and its effect did not see it, or even care; and worse, they still do not care.

    Here it is, the great bobble of 2016: Blue collar working class Americans wanted a candidate who could speak to their concerns with the same passion that Hillary reserved for women and children but could not summon for ordinary working people.

    That yearning of the worker for an advocate was the second or third rebirth of the old Dixiecrat movement, this time so desperate as to accept the lying promises of an obvious dishonest, inept clown. How many democrats crossed over to savor the sweetness of an advocate, no matter how inept?

    Why couldn’t Hillary stop talking about women and children for a few minutes a day to speak with passion to the grass roots needs of workers? Why, when she was losing legions of democrats to Trump did she not realize that she already had the votes of women and children and could afford to raise a little hell about worker’s grass roots issues. Why did she think that policies benefiting workers would win any votes while buried in the democrat platform?

    What is your solution for raising wages? Well, I think they should be raised, but for details and passion, I refer you to the platform.
    What is your solution for the export of American jobs? Well, I think we can do better, but for the great passion I feel for that issue, I refer you to the platform; it’s all in there.
    What is your solution to women’s rights to equal pay? Well, I can speak for months on that subject…and she did, long past when she had won all the votes possible on that issue, long past the day when working and jobless Americans began making obvious their migration to Trump.

    Compared to Trump’s astounding ignorance, this flaw in Hillary’s thinking (and the strategies of our democratic campaign gurus) may be even dumber.

  9. Stars Fell on Alabama last Tuesday! – in more ways than that celestial song title was ever intended to convey.

    I felt hope late Tuesday night for the first time since Trump won the election. Along with the winning Virginia and New Jersey results, Alabama showed we can make a difference if we VOTE! Alabama is the third layer on the cake we are trying to bake Le’s keep build the world’s tallest cake and dump the chumps!

    Trump and Bannon supported bad candidates in all three of these elections – it proved to be a kiss of death. Those two dangerous clowns don’t need our help in digging their final resting place – they are doing it on their own.

    Once again, we can regain our country by three steps: 1) run good solid candidates; 2) nourish the grass roots and 3) VOTE, VOTE, VOTE.

    Sound easy, doesn’t it? It will require hard work from all of us, but we can do it!

    I didn’t come to the dance with these guys, so I won’t go home with them.

  10. This is a very funny comment: Rep. Peter King of New York: Steve Bannon “looks like some disheveled drunk who wandered on to the political stage” says Alabama vote was a “revulsion by people” of Bannon’s style and political views.

    It seems the Trumpet has now decided the servers in restaurants make too much money from tips:

    If the Trump administration has its way, the tip you leave your waiter or waitress could end up in the pocket of the restaurant owner instead of the person who served you. This week, Trump’s Labor Department proposed rescinding an Obama-era rule that made the logical point that tips are the property of the servers and cannot be taken by the restaurant owner.

    The administration’s proposal would allow restaurant owners who pay their wait staff as little as $7.25 per hour to collect all the tips left by patrons and do whatever they want with them—regardless of what diners intended.
    So if someone goes to Mar A Lago and leaves a tip, the Trumpet could pocket it.

    Anyway, the victory by Doug Jones was telling. I hope but I am not confident the Democrats can clean their own house of the Corporate Establishment Wing.

  11. I do not want to minimize the way people are viewing this election because I think a lot of factors mattered like the black vote and the general mobilization efforts, but the first comment above is spot on… the write-ins mattered. Plus there are some numbers that indicate about 4-9% of “reliable” Republican voters actually voted for Jones (many of these where in the suburbs). This means that what swung this election to Jones was the Republican who realized that there is an actual line in the sand that should not be crossed. He or she clearly sacrificed their “party” affiliation for some reason. Clearly some Rs realized that Moore would seriously hurt all Rs in 2018 but there is some indication that some Republican women said “enough is enough”. So I summarize it this way: 1. Dems put forth an above average candidate that fit the locality. 2. Dems worked the ground and it paid dividends – the people showed up! 3. Rs unleashed a monster of a candidate. AND 4. Enough Rs saw the cliff and stopped… and acted accordingly. The Republican Party was saved on Tuesday. That is the story today… but I have faith the Rs will get back on the path to the cliff.

  12. After reading the above comments and the countless post-election analyses, the major factor in all the hand-wringing about the closeness of Jones’ win, is that Alabama IS the place for institutional racism, utterly backward evangelical churches and a vulnerable population that has swallowed the anti-Obama line from Fox News, hook, line and sinker.

    Most Alabamians live by the motto: “Don’t tell us what to do.” Hell, they won’t even let anyone show them how to think straight and that their prejudices are antediluvian from the beginning.

    The fact that the voting demographics showed an overwhelming vote for Moore by white people, both men and women, showed just where the problems lie in Alabama. These folks are still carrying the baggage from “Reconstruction” and the Civil War. The Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s cemented that operating philosophy.

    So, give Alabamians who voted even more credit than just electing Jones. This election showed what is most important across the country, especially the “red” states: PEOPLE OF COLOR MUST BE HELPED TO OVERCOME THE RACIST ELECTION FIDDLING OF WHITE REPUBLICANS.

  13. As happened all during the campaign what I see here are all eyes on Moore as a terrible candidate and none on Jones and the DNC having run an effective campaign based on actually making America great again.

    That part is a repeat of HRC’s campaign. All of the media was squirrel chasing how awful Trump/Pence were, thereby stealing the limelight from how qualified Hillary was.

    Clearly that’s some part RNC campaign strategy, divide and conquer by ruling the news, and some part our addiction to breaking entertainment rumor.

    The big question is will America listen to what’s essential for success at governance instead of salacious revelations?

  14. Thank you Vernon Turner and Pete as well for bringing us all a bit closer to being down to earth about what needs to really happen. That’s not aimed at denigrating anyone else’s comments at all but for what we desperately need to have happen, which will involve all of us, we need to clearly see the problem and the reality of the constraints we face in dealing with this terrible, totally revolting blight that truly threatens this country and our way of life as a free people.

  15. I agree with what Trump said: “a win is a win”, but, for my money, it was way too close, and that’s disappointing. What if Moore’s accusers hadn’t come forward? Would his scofflawing, race baiting, Bible-thumping and general arrogance and obnoxiousness have made any difference? I don’t think so. I think that a lot of white, suburban women also got fondled against their wishes and had no recourse, so they identified with the victims, so the “Me Too” movement might have been the biggest factor here. While it is refreshing that slightly more Alabamians disapprove than approve of Trump, it’s still too close. Trump’s national approval rating is in the low 30’s, but in the high 40’s in Alabama. That, too, is disappointing.

  16. Between 1978 and ’79, I lived in northern Alabama with my mother’s side of the family. They were blue collar farmers that had a construction business when they couldn’t survive off the farm. I’ll never forget my oldest cousin saying, “you can vote for who ever you want, as long as it’s a democrat.” Their town is still segregated to this day. My cousin’s wife said that in ’08, her Mother couldn’t vote for a woman (Clinton) or a black man (Obama) so she didn’t vote sigh. She’s in her 80s now but back then she attended a church that had snake handlers while they spoke in tongues.

    Unfortunately, most of Alabama residents are back woods hillbillies that are uneducated or educated at some of the worst schools in the country. None of my first cousins finished high school back in the 70s. Their children have finished and some have even gone to college but none have finished.

    My uncle is a retired dean/professor at Northern Alabama University and he’s as liberal as they come. Education will be the death of conservationism.

    But lets be honest here. The black belt of Alabama turned the tide against Moore. Tom Perez (DNC chair) used funds for the GOTV and had billboards with registration deadlines and who to contact about getting the proper IDs in order to vote. You have to give that leadership some credit for helping to get the QUALIFIED candidate in the Senate and leaving the idiot behind (who hasn’t conceded yet). 98 and 99% percent of black men and women voted for Jones.

    I am thrilled that Alabama proved to the world that we are not all hillbillies in this country. We need to work on those 60% or more that were white and STILL voted for Moore. Bless their hearts.

    (My cousins don’t mind when I call them hillbillies, they are proud of it. And for that, they still call me a damn yankee and I smile, fondly).

  17. Let’s not forget Alabama was the home of George Wallace who did his best to preserve white privilege, white supremacy and segregation. At his inauguration as Governor on January 14, 1963, he spoke about out his opposition to integration and the civil rights movement:
    Today I have stood, where once Jefferson Davis stood, and took an oath to my people. It is very appropriate then that from this Cradle of the Confederacy, this very Heart of the Great Anglo-Saxon Southland, that today we sound the drum for freedom as have our generations of forebears before us done, time and time again through history. Let us rise to the call of freedom- loving blood that is in us and send our answer to the tyranny that clanks its chains upon the South. In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny . . . and I say . . . segregation today . . . segregation tomorrow . . . segregation forever.

    Wallace finishes his speech by invoking God: “God has placed us here in this crisis . . . let is not fail in this . . . our most historical moment. ”
    Wallace mentions chains, but not the ones used on the slaves!!! Wallace’s speech has all the basic elements, glorification of the Confederacy, God is on our side, communistic amalgamation and the Federal Government is your enemy.

    At some point the overt appeals to racism and Jim Crow were submerged. A new method was employed the use of code words, but the attitude and philosophy remained and emerged with Nixon’s Southern Strategy. Forward then to the adoption of Bible Thumping and the Federal Government is your enemy by the RepubliCons.

    Roy Moore was the logical end, emboldened by the siren call of the Trumpet.
    As I read Wallace’s speech it seems to me to have the core values of what we see to today in the RepubliCon Party.

  18. Natacha; I agree with your comment that the election was “way too close”, but not close enough to warrant a recount. The fact that it was close and so many references have been made to that vital 2% who voted “write-ins” is why I believe WHO they wrote in would give us a better indication of the thinking of those who did vote. It would tell left or alt-right mind sets.

  19. I, too, am congratulating Alabama voters for Senator Jones’ win. Several factors were obviously in play, e.g. an energized African-American community, hard slogging door to door by volunteers, taking people to the polls, some write-in votes, white suburban votes. It worked, regardless of how slim the majority. Similar factors worked in Virginia and New Jersey. My main takeaway from all of this is that Democrats have to be ready to work really hard and involve people like me in some aspect of a campaign. I’m too old and creaky to go door to door, but I can use a telephone to call voters and find out if they need a ride, have they voted yet, etc.

    In regard to the Democrat Party, I think the party needs to really do some house cleaning and figure out what prevented hard campaigning in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and other states. The biggest need from my point of view is reinvigoration of the local party activists and recruitment of new activists. Also, some Democrats didn’t want to legitimize the Sanders faction, and this is a big mistake. If Democrats expect to win elections, the Sanders faction absolutely must be taken into account and legitimized within the party. Many millennials supported him and their views will make a big difference.

    In regard to voter ID’s, the first time I ever ran across it was one summer when we were vacationing in South Dakota. It was clearly an act of suppression. I asked myself who was enough of a threat to deserve this kind of attention, and then I checked the outcomes after the presidential election. Most of the state went Republican red, and the Indian reservations were dark blue. There are enough Indian reservations in South Dakota to make a difference. The Repubs have been at it for a long time.

  20. Sheila,

    “There are a number of ways to “slice and dice” Jones’ victory in the Alabama special election.”

    That’s very true. What I got out of this election is my doubt that 70% of the Aryan or Caucasian,
    or better labeled White, population in Nazi Germany in the 30’s would have voted for a PEDOPHILE if there was an election. I know it is a close call.

    Maybe Vernon would agree with me. LOL

  21. Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers must treat all data on the Internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, … Wikipedia

    That principle went by the wayside yesterday. But don’t let that deter all the wonderful and positive feelings from Moore’s defeat.

    The only RATIONAL positive outcome from that election is that a KNOWN PEDOPHILE won’t be a Senator in Washington.

  22. There is a lesson to learn from the Senatorial election in Alabama. It is the DEPTH of the racism in Alabama and throughout the U.S. The REAL TRUTH came out through the VOTING, even for a PEDOPHILE, behind CLOSED CURTAINS.

Comments are closed.