The last four polls show Moore ahead of Jones by 6% and 10%, even, and Jones ahead of Moore by 4%. All these polls were done over the last week, and there is no temporal trend to speak of. This means, of course, that the race is not fait accompli. While Moore is more ahead than Jones when he is ahead, Moore is only ahead in half the recent polls. Yet, everyone is convinced that Moore will win no matter what. I believe that is incorrect.
This polling data and the strange way in which most seem to interpret it is parallel to another confusion. It is said that the People of Alabama love to vote for Moore and will always elect him. This is not true.
In 2001, Moore defeated multiple primary opponents to get the Republican Party nomination for Chief Justice for the Alabama Supreme Court. I believe his opponents split the vote, and Moore won that race by about 50%. In the general, Moore was a Republican running against one of the few remaining Democrats in a state that was getting rid of the Democrats, and Moore ran on the coat tails of an ongoing culture war (over church-state, social justice, and education issues) at the same time that Bush and Gore were slogging it out. There was no way for Moore to not win, and he was likely to do very well in the general election. He won, but I think it was a close race, in a year with very low voter turnout (the data are unavailable at this time). Moore’s victory was real but unimpressive.
In 2006 Moore ran for the Republican nomination for governor in Alabama and was resoundingly defeated. It was a landslide. His opponent cleaned the floor with Moore’s face. Moore hardly showed himself to be a winner on that day. Not impressive.
In 2010, Moore again sought the Republican nomination. He came in fourth. We are not impressed.
In 2012, Moore was elected to the Alabama Supreme Court, from which he had been removed by a higher power for violating the Constitution multiple times. (He was later to be removed again.) He had won the Republican primary with 50% of the vote. Are we impressed by this? Not really. In the general, there were five judges elected that year, every one of them except Moore won by over 98% of the vote. That included two incumbents, and one non-incumbent. Moore won by 52% of the vote. Impressed, we are not.
This brings us to the 2017 election. You know the basic story. Moore defeated Strange in a special primary. Moore received 39% of the vote, and Strange, 33%. So, Moore did not demonstrate the love affair with Alabama voters many seem to assume, and he did not win by a large margin. But it was a clear victory. But you may not know the whole story. Strange was the Alabama Attorney General set to investigate the state’s governor, who was embroiled in a complex and startling sex and money controversy. It is widely believed, I’m told, that Governor Bentley appointed Strange to take Sesson’s place in the Senate in order to get him off his back, perhaps even as a pay-off. Nobody is sure what really happened, but this was a big deal in Alabama. There was no way Strange was going to do well at the ballot box during this special election. Indeed, he may have done better than one might have expected.
So, when it comes to the 2017 primary election, Roy Moore’s victory impressed with, we are not.
By the way, Moore started a possible campaign for President in 2012, and there was insufficient support for him to develop it.
In order to believe that Roy Moore is definitely going to be elected to represent Alabama in the United States Senate, you may have to believe that many, perhaps most, of the people of Alabama are cousin-screwing pedophilic slack-jawed banjo-playing yokels who don’t care about the moral fiber of their representatives, at least when it comes to sex. They get so much of this at home, they don’t even notice it in their leaders. And that may well be true. If you read Alan Taylor’s excellent book American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804, you will find out that the ancient history of the southern colonies may have provided some of the groundwork for this sort of thing, shockingly.
But I don’t believe it. I don’t think most people in Alabama don’t care that Roy Moore has a history of harassment and assault of young girls. In fact, there is evidence that they do care. There is talk that Moore was banned from a shopping mall in the 1980s because he was going after the young girls. The Alabamans associated with the Gadsden Mall, if this report turns out to be true, noticed, cared about, and eschewed Moore-style behavior.
Moore’s victories have had the following three characteristics: 1) They are rare; He has not come close to winning every race; 2) They are meager. He has an OK showing at the polls, but nothing to cause us today to say he is unbeatable, not by any means; and 3) They are existentially unimpressive. He won when there was a tide going his way, or his opposition was divided.
I believe that Roy Moore believes himself to be unbeatable. I actually think it is possible that he will quit before the election, but if that happens it will happen this week, otherwise, not at all. This is a suspicion I have because it seems that things are going on of which we can not see the details, on the surface, and strong political forces are lining up to wipe him out. But this will probably not happen, and his hubris will be hard to reckon with, and his hubris will likely cause him to go to the mat in December.
But that hubris will not sway Alabama voters. The polls show a close race, and forces of civilization, which have at least a toehold in Alabama, are converging. Fewer people will vote for him than you might think.
Also, there is a statistical argument to make. Polls show the race close. Moore historically wins at just around 50% or less. So, we can’t assume that a large majority support him. The population of Alabama includes about 26% African American citizens, and a couple of percent other, mainly Hispanic. Roy Moore is not a candidate for the non-white.
Alabama is 63% protestant, including 37% baptist, and 6% Snake Handlers. Some of those protestants are the ones willing to vote for someone like Moore just for religious reasons. No one else wants to do that. About 8% are non-Christian (including Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness, with 1% Jewish) and about 6% non-religious. Assume that distribution is roughly reflected across white voters (though it is more likely that the 6% non religion is more white). This means that fewer than 63% of 74% of the voters, or about 47% at most, are going to stick with Roy Moore because they hold nearly identical religious beliefs, including the idea that child molestation and other crimes, as well as being anti-Constitutional, are unimportant as long as one will follow the directives of the local ministers while in office. So, even the raw demographics which is the most powerful predictive model I know of, shows that this will be a very close race, with Moore unlikely to win.
Take a 50-50 race and add all the things biasing in only one direction. The candidate that is being carried away by that tide will lose.
Roy Moore will not be elected to the United States Senate by the good people of Alabama.