Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: Moore vs. Jones

  The final vote for the remaining three years of Jeff Sessions' six-year term in the U.S. Senate will be next Tuesday. The race is between Democrat Doug Jones and Republican Roy Moore.

  Jeff Sessions is probably sorry he left his safe Senate seat of 20 years to be at the Justice Department in a tentative position with constant ridicule from an irrational egomaniac as president.

  It would be highly unlikely that a Democrat could beat a Republican for a U.S. Senate seat in the Heart of Dixie.  We are one of the most reliably Republican states in America, especially when it comes to federal offices.

  However, this is a special election and not a normal election. That means you have to really want to go vote for either Jones or Moore in the middle of the Christmas season. Most folks, particularly 25 - 45-year-olds, could not care less who is our Junior U.S. Senator. That group of folks is more interested in how they are going to make their mortgage payment, what they are going to have for supper, and whether their kid got to their soccer game.

  Therefore, the question is who has the most ardent, fervent, and dedicated followers. Without question, that is Roy Moore, the “Ten Commandments Judge.” Polls have consistently shown that 30 percent of Alabamians will vote for Roy Moore come hell or high water, and 70 percent will not vote for him under any circumstances.

  A poll is a picture of the entire electorate. The final poll, and the only one that counts, is the one where they count the votes of the folks that showed up to vote on Election Day. That poll favors Roy Moore. His followers will show up to vote. They are dedicated to Moore, and they are dedicated to voting. They are also older, and older people are more likely to vote than younger voters. In addition, white voters vote at a higher percentage than black voters. Our state is essentially divided by racial lines. Most Democratic voters are black, and most Republican voters are white. It’s that simple.

  Politics and political races are about numbers. As a boy, I would spend time with my old veteran probate judge. He had been probate judge of my county for 30 years, a state senator, and sheriff prior to his becoming King of the County. He would give me the very boring task of studying voting returns of boxes in the county. He would say the first lesson of politics is to learn how to count.

  In the first Republican primary, there were 425,000 votes cast in the Senate race. On the other hand, there were 165,000 Democratic votes cast. Moore got over 200,000 votes in the GOP runoff against Luther Strange.

  Undoubtedly, Moore is a very polarizing figure. Like George Wallace, either you like him or you do not. More sophisticated, urbane voters in the state detest Moore, and they will not vote for him. About the time of the Strange vs. Moore runoff contest, a friend of mine hosted a book-signing party for me in his Mountain Brook home. There were about 50 upscale Jefferson County people at the event. Almost every one of them came up to me and told me that they are Republicans, but if Roy Moore became the GOP nominee, they would vote for Doug Jones.

  Indeed, you can drive through upscale neighborhoods of Jefferson County, especially Mountain Brook, Vestavia and Homewood, and you will see Doug Jones signs in practically every yard. You can see this same scenario in upscale enclaves of Huntsville, Mobile, and Montgomery. However, be reminded that George Wallace never carried Mountain Brook. The folks in the barbershops and beauty parlors in Opp, Oxford, and Rainbow City elect our governors and senators.

  Doug Jones is running an excellent campaign. He is a good candidate. However, he is very much out of the mainstream of the majority of Alabama voters, especially on social issues like guns, abortion, immigration, gay marriage, and transgender individuals in the military. He is a real national Democrat, and he does not shy away from his liberal positions. There is no difference between Doug Jones and Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi. He is proud of his stances. He could run for Senator of California and be in the mainstream and probably be elected. However, not in the Heart of Dixie. 

  Doug Jones may get close, but close only counts in horseshoes. My guess is that the white voter who attends an evangelical mega-church in Gardendale is more likely to vote on Tuesday than a black voter in North Birmingham. 

  We will see. Turnout is the key.

  About the author: Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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