Another Backlash to Trump

Another Backlash to Trump
For the first time in 25 years, a Democrat, Doug Jones has been elected to a seat in the Senate from the state of Alabama. He beat Roy Moore, the Republican candidate..

For the first time in 25 years, a Democrat, Doug Jones has been elected to a seat in the Senate from the state of Alabama. He beat Roy Moore, the Republican candidate who had been endorsed by US President Donald Trump.

Background

Roy Stewart Moore is an American politician and former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama. Moore has been in the public eye for almost two decades amid a number of controversies in that time. During his tenure in the Supreme Court of Alabama, he was suspended twice – the second time for his stand against same sex marriage. In 2017, he announced that he was running in the special elections for the Senate. His run for the Senate was sharply criticized by even Republican lawmakers like Jeff Flake. In 2017, multiple women accused him of sexual conduct. Some of the alleged misconduct occurred when some of these women were underage.

Gordon Douglas Jones is an American politician and former US Federal Prosecutor who ran on the Democratic platform.

US President Donald Trump is a polarizing figure in domestic politics. He has been criticized by fellow Republican lawmakers like John McCain and Jeff Flake. His populist rhetoric has also been harshly criticized.

Steve Bannon has often been cited as one of the driving forces behind Donald Trump’s successful presidential campaign. Before joining the campaign in August 2016, he was the Executive Chairman of a news agency called the Breitbart News. By his own volition, the news portal can be considered as a “platform for the alt-right.”

 

Analysis

In November 2017, the Republicans suffered a number of setbacks. Democrats Ralph Northam and Phil Murphy both won big gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey respectively. There were also a series of upsets in the Virginia’s House of Delegates races with the Democrats emerging victorious. At the time many experts stated that this was a clear backlash against Trump and his rhetoric.

The state of Alabama in the United States is considered a “Red” state. In other words, it is considered a region where the people vote mostly for Republican candidates. In the 2016 Presidential elections, Trump won the state by a comfortable margin. There hasn’t been a Democrat elected by the state in over 25 years.

However, in December 2017, the tide turned as Doug Jones became the first Democrat in 25 years to win a US Senate seat for Alabama by beating Roy Moore. Trump had endorsed Moore despite the allegations of pedophilia amidst heavy criticism. Jones’ victory was by a margin of 49.9 to 48.4 with 100% of precincts reporting. According to an exit poll, Jones won 95% of the African-American vote but only 27% of the white vote.  Meanwhile, despite losing, Moore, has refused to concede the race.

The Democratic victory will reduce the Republican majority in the Senate to 51-49. At first Trump struck a conciliatory note and tweeted, “Congratulations to Doug Jones on a hard fought victory. The write-in votes played a very big factor, but a win is a win. The people of Alabama are great, and the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends!” However, later, he claimed that he was always aware that Moore would lose. “The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange (and his numbers went up mightily),” Trump wrote, “is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election. I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!”

However, CNN reported that a source close to the White House said that Moore loss, "is an earthquake" and "devastating" for the President. This is also being seen a political blow to Steve Bannon. The political strategist had heavily endorsed Moore and used his own media platform (Breitbart) to push Moore’s agenda and candidacy. He had reportedly thought that despite the multiple controversies surrounding the candidate, Moore would still win by 5-10%.

For a recount to take place the margin has to be less than 0.5% and that is not the case with the special elections in Alabama.

Assessment

Our assessment is that this is clearly a blow to the President and his agenda. The voter turnout for the African American population in the state was higher than usual and overwhelmingly tilted towards Jones. This was a backlash not only towards Moore’s controversial views but also the President himself as he has been criticized of harboring racist views. Additionally, in the Senate this narrows the lead between Republicans and Democrats and will be harder to push for specific mandates.  This is also likely to cause concerns within Republican players regarding the 2018 mid-term elections. 

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