Going Out on A Limb: Bradford & James Predict Special Election Results Between Jones and Moore of Alabama
Bradford’s Pick: The polls are all over the place on this race, and we still don't even know how reliable polls are anymore in this Caller ID and cell phone era. I have been thinking all fall that this race would be like the 4 Congressional special elections earlier this year, in Georgia, Montana, Kansas and South Carolina. Democrats were close in all 4, but the districts were too solidly, and historically, red for a blue candidate to take.
The Alabama Senate race should be like those 4 races--a solid GOP state in which the pro-life, pro-gun, tough on immigration candidate wins, especially given voter ID laws that tend to dampen minority voting. But right now, pin me down, and with great hesitation (and to my own surprise), I'd pick Jones to pull off the upset win for reasons that make it different from the 4 Congressional races:
(1) obviously, the disturbing allegations re: child molestation;
(2) Moore's curious absence from the campaign trail most of the last week while Jones continually worked the voters;
(3) a significant media buy edge for Jones; and
(4) a degree of disunity among Republicans vs lockstep unity among Democrats.
Any one of these factors would probably have tilted the 4 Congressional elections toward the Democrats, and I think the combination of the 4 will tilt the Alabama senate race for Jones.
So, I am going out on a limb here, but the historic Bama contrarian "we don't care what you think" (mostly rural and small town) voters will run up against the new Bama suburban, progressively commercial voters, and the latter plus the minority vote will probably do it for the Democrat.
James’s Pick: I am going to disagree with Mr. Bradford. I am not sure, in a Special Election, that the suburban voters are going to turn out in enough numbers to overcome the conservative, and Christian, Alabama voter. There are several reasons:
1. The Moore base voter is conservative and white. These people vote in special elections. I do not believe them to be as divided as Bradford may think. Quite to the contrary I think this Christian conservative movement will turn out in enough numbers to give Moore the edge. After all, they strongly believe the media is painting Moore in a negative light. These conservatives are angry over the “Clinton-Obama” deception when it comes to lying about Roy Moore. These feelings of anger are intense.
2. Jones needs a significant black voter turnout. He started pushing the black vote a few weeks ago, but this is a special election and the late push may not be enough to get blacks to the polls.
In Alabama black voters are disconnected from the political world because of the hugely conservative, and religiously based, white population. I am not sure that dating 14-year-old when you were in your 30s is enough to push black voters to the polls.
3. The Jones base is smaller than the Moore base. In a special election pushing that base is important, and indicators are that the Democratic base just does not have enough numbers to out vote the Republican base.
4. This leaves swing voters. What is unknown is how motivated these voters are. Moore has made some outlandish statements ranging from denying his past liking for teenage girls to suggesting that Alabama was its greatest during slavery. However, is this enough to get those suburban voters to the polls? If it is, and swing voters vote in significant numbers, along with the Democratic base turning out, then my gut felling that Moore wins is wrong. In this election I am happy to be wrong, because Moore is a blight on the American political landscape.
5. Richard Shelby not voting Moore is not enough to split the Moore base. Richard Shelby still voted Republican with a write in candidate. Moreover, most voters know that a write in vote is a throw away vote. Why vote if your vote is going to be a thrown away?
6. In order to win Jones needs his base to vote fairly strongly, he needs stronger than average black turnout to the polls, he needs swing voters to turn out in strong numbers, and he needs to split the GOP vote by peeling off enough GOP voters to undermine the Moore base. There is no indication that Jones has built this coalition of support to counter the strongly motivated Christian conservative voter in Alabama voting in a low voter turnout election.
7. Moore needs his base to be motivated. His absence from the campaign trail may be an indicator he thinks he is winning, his base is solid, and his campaign wants to keep the lightening rod for controversy out of the public eye. Is this going to impact turnout? Not among the Moore base.
Special elections are different. The usually have low voter turnout, and if voter turnout is not significantly higher in this election Moore will win.