Trump Repudiated in Alabama Senate Election

College graduates, minorities, young voters and women turned out in droves to defeat Donald Trump’s ally.

American president Donald Trump gives a speech in Paris, France, July 12
American president Donald Trump gives a speech in Paris, France, July 12 (DoD/Dominique A. Pineiro)

Roy Moore’s defeat in Alabama’s special Senate election on Tuesday is a repudiation of Donald Trump and the party he wants to build.

Never one to accept responsibility, the president was up early this morning tweeting he knew Moore couldn’t win and that’s why he supported his Republican opponent, Luther Strange, in the primary.

Sure.

Changing minds

Reporting at the time was that Trump sympathized with Moore but was forced into endorsing the more mainstream Strange by Republican leaders in Congress.

He later threw his full support behind Moore, even when three women accused the former judge of sexual assault and others claimed he pursued romantic relations with them when they were teenagers.

That wasn’t enough for Trump, who has himself been accused of sexual misconduct and sexual assault by numerous women, to change his mind about Moore.

Nor was Moore’s belief that homosexuality should be illegal or that the Ten Commandments should trump the Constitution.

But it was for many Alabamians. In particular:

  • College-educated suburbanites, who have been leaving the Republican Party in droves since it nominated Trump.
  • Black and young voters, who turned out in greater numbers than usual in an off-year election.
  • Women, especially women of color.

Takeaways for Democrats

These same groups came out for Democrat Ralph Northam in Virginia last month, where Ed Gillespie, formerly a center-right Republican who adopted Trump’s race-baiting tactics, lost the election for governor.

I argued at the time that there were three takeaways for Democrats:

  1. American politics is a balancing act. Lean too far one way and you lose voters on the other end.
  2. Middle-income suburbanites are swing voters.
  3. Don’t try to be something you’re not. Democrats are the party of liberals, minorities and the young. Voters know that. Don’t insult their intelligence by denying it.

Doug Jones’ victory in Alabama confirms that Democrats shouldn’t fight yesterday’s war and try to win back rural left-behind and Rust Belt voters who switched to Trump in 2016. They are more likely to either stick with the president or stay home.

Democrats should pay more attention to middle-class, minority and millennial voters in the Sun Belt states. That’s where the future of the party is.