The longest Senate race ever has mercifully drawn to a close. Roy Moore became the first Republican candidate to lose a Senate race in Alabama since the Reagan Administration. In light of this political earthquake, pundits are already asking the question, What happened? What does it mean that Roy Moore lost by 1.5 percent to Democrat Doug Jones? Now is as good a time as ever to delve into post-election analysis. Here’s what the Roy Moore loss really means.
I agree with Michael Brown, of the National Review. “I’m seeing some crazy suggestions about what Roy Moore’s loss means going forward. If this can happen in Alabama, Democrats can win anywhere. And Republicans can lose everywhere. Doug Jones is a true progressive on abortion, immigration, and a host of other issues. Therefore, Democrats can use their unity and be uncompromising. My own impressions are more modest. In reality, does the Moore loss mean anything for 2018 or 2020? Let’s not get carried away.”
Well said. Let’s not get carried away.
Chris Cillizza was right when he summarized, “Candidates and campaigns matter.” Just as Hillary Clinton made a mistake by not campaigning in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, Moore erred by avoiding public appearances in the 48 hours leading up to Tuesday’s election. The famous Michael Dukakis tank commercial cost him votes. Neither Clinton’s nor Dukakis’ loss necessarily meant doom for their party. Similarly, the bland campaigns of Gerald Ford (1976), George Bush (1996), and John McCain (2008) did not reflect on the Republican Party. Candidates and campaigns matter.
Liberal media is proclaiming the end of Donald Trump – because a Republican who is an accused child predator lost to a Democrat by 1.5 points. Conservative media is right to counter that this line of reasoning must admit that any Republican who is not an accused child predator can still win in places like Alabama – big.
If Moore had won by 1.5 points, the analysis would go like this – Trump won big, Republicans are in control, and Democrats are in huge trouble in 2018. I suggest that this is a massive over read. A slim 1.5-point win for the Democrats in this election means little.
What we know now, we knew before the election. Any match-up between two mainstream candidates from the two parties in Alabama will still result in a blow-out for the Republican. How else can we explain Moore not losing by 20 points? Given the baggage Moore drug into this race, the results were as expected, and predicted here last week.
A warning to Democrats – don’t spike the ball too soon. A Moore win would have been an albatross around the neck of the Republican Party for the next year, leading up to the 2018 election. That likely would have cost them five or six seats in close Senate races around the country.
The Moore loss doesn’t mean much. But it does mean this – a small win for Democrats now and a potentially huge win for Republicans next year.