Jones Victory Tipping Point for Trump Presidency by John Zogby
Doug Jones has won his battle against Roy Moore and the meaning of his win is much larger than his margin of victory. Mr. Jones is now the first Democrat to win a US Senate seat in this very conservative seat since 1992 – and that win belonged to Senator Shelby who then changed parties and has served as a Republican. Mr. Moore had his opposition from the beginning but he has won statewide races for Chief Justice as late as 2012. Typically, African American voters represent 25% of the total vote in a statewide election. Exit polls showed that about 30% of the total in this election were African American. Another 3% were Hispanic. Mr. Jones won 88% of the nonwhite votes.
Sometimes analysts are too quick to nationalize local elections but not in this case. President Donald Trump spent his political capital in Alabama and in the latter days of the campaign went all out for Mr. Moore. Initially, he warned against rushing to judgment against the GOP candidate for allegations that he sexually harassed teenagers when he was an assistant district attorney in his thirties. Then he called on voters to support a man whose vote he needed in the Senate. But with days to go the President gave a speech in neighboring Pensacola, Florida vigorously campaigning for the judge. He also taped robo calls and put his political reputation on the line. Exit polls showed that 55% of those who voted had a negative view of Mr. Moore and just enough had an unfavorable view of Mr. Trump to actually help Mr. Jones’ cause.
Even the Republican National Committee, which had withdrawn money and other support for Mr. Moore jumped back into the race in the closing days. A Moore victory would have probably forced an investigation into his past behavior and a strong effort to unseat him. All of this would have been timed to hurt the party’s chances in the 2018 congressional elections.
In the final analysis, Mr. Trump owns this loss. So does the GOP. It is so much larger than Roy Moore. While a victory could have hurt the party even more, a loss is a loss – especially when a sitting President puts his reputation on the line. This has hurt the President right at a time that 60 female Congressional representatives have called for an investigation into sexual harassment charges against him, 100 Congressional representatives have called upon him to resign, 4 original accusers have called for an investigation into the charges, and he is engaged in an unseemly battle with women Senators, notably Senator Kirsten Gillibrand who has been heroic in taking on the US military on sexual harassment.
The President is wounded. His margin is the US Senate has been reduced to the point where he cannot risk even one defection. This was the same week he was being chastised by the President of France for withdrawing from the global environmental treaty and he angered nations in the Middle East and throughout the world for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Last week was a tipping point for the Trump Presidency. A loss in otherwise safe state like Alabama could be the beginning of his end.
John Zogby (@TheJohnZogby) is the founder of the Zogby Poll and Zogby companies, including John Zogby Strategies, and author of We Are Many We Are One: Neo-Tribes and Tribal Analytics in the 21st Century America.