How Democrats can win elections even in the most red state
It has been a long and bizarre special election for U.S. Senate in Alabama and it finally came to a close on Tuesday. Once a long shot, Doug Jones, a Democratic former prosecutor turns Alabama from red to blue by defeating Republican and former Judge Roy Moore.
Even amidst the allegations against Roy Moore, Moore was still the favorite going into Tuesday’s election according to the polls, but Jones was just a normal polling error away from winning.
Alabama is a deeply red State that carried President Trump by 28 percentage points in 2016. So normally this race really shouldn’t be as close or as competitive as it was. But Judge Moore, however, was an extremely divisive figure in Alabama politics before his campaign began.
Moore was already significantly underperforming compared to Trump’s margin in polls before The Washington Post first reported on Nov. 9, that Moore had been accused of sexual misconduct. Since then the polls swung in favor of Jones and then back to Moore.
The obvious flaws in candidate Moore help narrow the small margin Moore had over Jones. But now Doug Jones is Alabama’s first Democratic Senator in 25 years! So how did Doug Jones rally the Democratic base in Alabama and extend a torch to disenfranchised Republicans?
Messaging & Communication
Although the demographics of Alabama favored the Republican candidate, Jones’ campaign strategy targeted specific groups which would give him the required momentum to push him across the finish line. His campaign focused on African-American voters with a rigorous get out the vote effort and appealed to educated white voters to turn their backs on the Republican Party and Moore.
We saw a similar strategy used in Virginia last month, but appealing to disenfranchised Republican voters is different in Alabama than Virginia. Trump is extremely popular in Alabama, he won by the largest margin since Reagan. But Jones’ path to victory lied in the suburbs as Republicans and Trump have a serious suburban problem. Doug Jones’ campaign targeted this group heavily just like we saw in Virginia and was able to get affluent whites which would be normal GOP voters to abandon Moore and the Republican Party.
The Doug Jones campaign relied heavily on a huge get out the vote effort and also energizing the Democratic base in Alabama. This momentum was mostly propelled by progressive and African-Americans voters who have been long-waiting for a revolutionary like change in the divisive brand of Politics that has flourished in Alabama. According to CBS News Exit Poll, Doug Jones was able to get 96% of the African American vote and 98% of the democratic vote. This is exactly what getting out the vote looks like and this is what Doug Jones needed to do to win. In addition Doug Jones turned out 51% of independents, 60% of young voters, 57% of women and 8% of Republicans flipped their vote from Moore to Jones. Getting 8% of Republicans to switch their vote from party affiliation is daunting especially in a racially and politically polarized state like Alabama. But this will become a focal point going into 2018 for Democrats and there will be low hanging fruit for them because of the GOP party and the candidates they allow to run on their platform.
One huge issue for Republicans is they are suffocating themselves by their own devisiveness. The constant use of fear & hate-mongering and overall craziness of some of their candidates is slowly pushing moderates away from their party and into the arms of the Democratic party. For example, Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), a long-time GOP darling had a gem a while back which was a typical Republican talking point. Why should men pay for prenatal coverage when they cannot become pregnant, I think Rep. Shimkus forgot how babies were made. Or when Rep. Shimkus said global warming isn't something to worry about because God said he wouldn't destroy the Earth after Noah's flood. And some in the GOP like to take it even further, Texas Rep. Randy Weber once compared Obama to Hitler. These types of crazy actions and insane behavior are not only allowed in the Republican party but are encouraged by the Republican leadership. These members don’t get scolded for their actions or outbursts in fact they get encouraged by the small percentage of their base and the top leaders among their party for fueling a politically polarizing environment.
While the GOP was able to amass just enough to claim victory in 2016 they will lose in the long run for allowing candidates to run on their platform who are overtly racists, misogynistic, anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant and Islamophobic. Democrats need to seize this opportunity to be inclusive to EVERYONE of any group and take a hard stance on being the party of morals and values where the GOP seems to continuously fall short.
The blue wave is building and it is gaining more & more momentum everyday. Now is the time for Democrats to tap into the political energy and revitalize the base and the party. There has never been a better time to run for office as a Democrat. We are seeing long-shot candidates win in the most red states and this is just the first of many red states that will turn blue in 2018.