By: Jeffrey Albertson/November 26, 2017
Before departing for Thanksgiving respite this week, President Donald Trump endorsed Alabama Republican Senate Candidate Roy Moore, who has become the center of national attention over allegations of sexual misconduct with at least six different teenagers during his 30s. Answering a question from a pool of reporters, the President said that Moore “totally denies it” and that “it didn’t happen” and his denials of what happened forty year ago should be taken into consideration. The President went on to criticize Democratic Senate Candidate Doug Jones stating that “[W]e don’t need a liberal person in there…a Democrat…Jones…I’ve looked at his record, it’s terrible on crime, on the borders, and terrible on the military…and bad for the second amendment.” The comments are nearly mirror to those of White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway, who told “Fox and Friends” that “[W]e want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through.” Such remarks are a direct juxtaposition to what she earlier said that “no Senate seat is worth more than a child.”
In a state which has been strongly in the Republican’s corner since 1996 and not been won by a Democratic Presidential Candidate since 1976, the Alabama Senate Special Election should be nothing short of a fait accompli for Democrats in the state, but average polling data collected by RealClear Politics suggests otherwise. Two months ago, according to an Emerson poll, Moore had a 22 point lead over Jones. Just two weeks ago, the same styled poll had Moore ahead by 10 points. However, in just the past 10 days, according to polling from Fox News and Gravis, Jones has surpassed Moore by 5 to 8 points, reflecting nearly a 30 point swing. How Alabamians will square their decision to vote in light of Moore’s allegations remain unclear. Following the release of the now infamous “Billy Bush tape,” during which then Presidential Candidate Trump boasted about moving on a married woman and grabbing female genitalia, the state’s voters—by a 62% margin still overwhelmingly supported him.
In the past month, varying degree’s sexual misconduct and harassment allegations have surfaced from entertainment, media, and political realms impacting individuals of both political parties. In the recent week, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) have found their careers in political jeopardy over misconduct. In Ohio, state Rep. Wes Goodman, a Republican who routinely touted his Christian faith and anti-LGBT views, resigned after being caught having sex with a man in his office. Goodman became the second Ohio Republican to resign, after state Sen. Cliff Hite abruptly quit following a complaint that was filed by a legislative analyst that alleged the former senator sought intercourse and would not leave her alone. Even former President George H. W. Bush acknowledged touching multiple women inappropriately in what his spokesman called “patt[ing] women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner.” From the media, multi-network journalist Charlie Rose and MSNBC senior political analyst Mark Halperin were terminated and New York Times White House reporter Glenn Thrush was suspended.
Should Moore win the special election in December, he can immediately expect to be met with hostility from Senate Democrats and some Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has called on Moore to resign as a candidate and presumably is worried that Moore’s election will drag down Republicans candidates in the 2018 midterms, which may nonetheless prove difficult for GOP candidates given the President’s dismal approval rating, which stands currently at 38%. McConnell could refuse to seat Moore in the Senate and refer his case to the ethics committee. Another option for Moore would be expulsion, as suggested by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), who said the candidate lacked ethical or moral standards.
While the allegations against Moore may have lessened his popularity in polling data, he still enjoys the support of the Republican Party of Alabama and by proxy, the President, who also enjoys a high popularity in the state. Considering that Democrats have not carried Alabama since 1976 in a Presidential race and have been shut out of the Senate since 1996, the probability remains high that Moore will be the next Senator from Alabama.