My secret correspondent from Alabama writes,
Because the political divide is so clear in Alabama, it has been interesting to watch the evolution of public acceptance that we even have a problem. Until the end of last week the MAGA folks were defiant in their disbelief that there was any issue at all. They made a point of glad handing each other with spittle flying. I’m sure at night the jizm filled the air behind the VFW club.
The stock-up trips to the groceries were, until this weekend, all made by [reality based] people like us. So shopping was easy and unhurried. Toilet paper crammed the shelves.
Sunday, the “upper” type stores like Publix began to see their first waves. On Monday you couldn’t fight your way into a Piggly Wiggly if you wanted.
This morning I looked again at the 2018 House Popular Vote Tracker, and received the happy news that our aggregate margin has increased by one tenth of one percent. The Democratic advantage is now 7.8 percent, of which 5.7 percent represents an improvement over Clinton’s popular vote margin of 2.1 percent.
In an earlier post I mistakenly implied that this extra 5.7 percent Democratic margin is made up entirely of previous Republican voters who decided to vote against Trump’s enablers in 2018. In fact, that, of course, accounts for only part of the change. Additional factors would include Republican voters who decided to stay home in 2018, and, most importantly, normally Democratic voters who were unenthused by Hillary Clinton but who, by 2018, had come to see the reason to show up at the polls. But whatever the sources of the change may be, a 5.7 percent shift is still a 5.7 percent shift.
But what about the blue shift in red country? Was there one, and what might it portend? Let’s look at Alabama, whose seven congressional districts are shown on the map below.
Alabama’s legislators segregated as many black citizens as they possibly could segregate, into the seventh district. The Republicans didn’t bother putting up a candidate for congress there, the white folks didn’t bother to vote, and the Democratic candidate for Congress won with 97.8 percent of the vote.
So let’s disregard the seventh district, and look only at the six white people’s districts. According to the Cook Political Report, these six Alabama districts normally lean Republican by margins ranging between a low of 15 percent and a high of 30 percent. So of course all these districts will be represented in the next Congress by Republicans. (All over the country, Republicans reliably won in districts leaning Republican by more than about five points, while a lot of the districts leaning Republican by five percent or less flipped to Democratic control.)
Nevertheless, I find it heartening that, even in Alabama, some fraction of my white brethren and sistern are beginning to wake up and smell the coffee.
The fifth district, which is located in the Tennessee Valley and includes Huntsville, saw a 10.7 percent shift in the Democratic direction, as between Trump in 2016 and the Republican congressional candidate in 2018—well exceeding the national 5.7 percent difference.
The second district comprises an irregularly shaped portion of southeastern Alabama. and includes Montgomery. There the Democratic candidate’s margin exceeded Trump’s margin by 8.6 percent, again materially more than the national average.
In the third and the sixth districts (east central Alabama) the 2018 Democratic gains—5.5 and 5.3 percent—were almost the same as the national figure.
In the first district (Mobile and surrounding territory), the Democratic pickup was significantly less than the national average, but that was the Alabama district where Clinton did best (that is, least badly) in 2016.
But there is good news for Trump. In the fourth district (north central Alabama, south of the Tennessee River). There Democrats were only able to improve by 2.8 percent on their crushing 62.5 percent loss in 2016.
I mention these things not to prognosticate the 2020 Alabama Senate race. I assume my Alabama sources are right in predicting that Senator Jones will be looking for a new job in 2021.
But I do think we need to keep some things in mind.
First, even in darkest Alabama, significant numbers of folks are already getting out of the clown car.
Second, Doug Jones’ victory over Trump-endorsed Roy Moore demonstrates beyond doubt that there are some things up with which some of the white voters of Alabama will not put.
And, thirdly, it’s entirely possible that some of the things white Alabama voters won’t tolerate might occur between now and 2020.
Folks who put their money on Trump’s criminality and stupidity haven’t lost a bet yet.
Per a recently passed bill, in November of this year, Alabama voters will decide whether the Ten Commandments may be displayed in schools and other government buildings.
In other news from Alabama, Attorney says Roy Moore supporters offered him $10,000 to drop client who accused the Senate candidate of sexual impropriety. To get his $10,000, the lawyer for Ms. Corfman, a teenage victim of Judge Moore, would have had to say he concluded that she was lying. The offer is said to be recorded in text messages and recorded conversations.
For the handy reference of any Alabamans who happen to be readers of this blog, here are the Ten Commandments. Passages of special relevance are highlighted.
Thou shalt have no other gods before ME.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
Thou shalt not kill.
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.
… four martyred children are smiling on the man who brought their murderers to justice.
Who is right? The results of the upcoming Republican Senate runoff in Alabama—heretofore known as Trump’s Kingdom—are likely to be very instructive. Trump has endorsed the Republican establishment candidate, the aptly yclept Luther Strange. (If Charles Dickins were writing a novel about Alabama politics, he would nave named this character Luther Strange. Am I right, or am I right?)
The establishment’s panicked push for Strange has allowed his even stranger opponent, Roy Moore to make these points. (These verbatim quotes give a good sense of the lay of the land.)
Roy Moore is endorsed by Dr. James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family; Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty; Chuck Norris of Walker, Texas Ranger; former Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, and former US Senate candidate Trip Pittman – Luther Strange is endorsed and bank-rolled by Mitch McConnell, the one insider who has single-handedly sunk the Trump agenda to repeal Obamacare and pass meaningful tax reform.
Judge Moore is an outsider loyal only to his God and fellow Alabamians – Luther is bought and paid for by Washington insiders and elites.
Roy Moore is a proven voice for the values and people of Alabama – Luther Strange is a proven yes-man for Mitch McConnell.
Yes, there is a clear choice for Alabama. It is Roy Moore.
Either because of the fact, or in spite of the fact—you choose which—that the stranger candidate is polling ahead of Strange, Trump has at long last yielded to the cries of panic from the Washington swamp monsters, and has scheduled a rally for Strange in Huntsville.
Will Trump actually visit his kingdom in support of Strange? Will his voice be full throated, or will he hedge?
Will Trump’s Alabama subjects once again be led by the nose? Or will they absorb the message that Trump’s DACA reversal shows him to be a fraud, a turncoat, and just another critter from the Washington swamp? Will they finally understand that they have been the victims of a giant con?
Decades ago, the folks who have been Trump’s Alabama subjects were Aardvark’s people. But I left Alabama—in more ways than one—so I cannot say with any great authority what these folks are now thinking.
But here’s my sense of it.
Alabama’s white voters have indeed loved Trump, but they have loved him because he gave voice to their overwhelming sense of cultural and racial victimhood.
You have to be pretty mean to want to kick the Dreamers out of this country. I think that in Alabama, a lot of folks are that mean. (And for that, I pity them.)
I wasn’t able to find Alabama-specific polling on DACA, but there are clues. One is that Alabama’s attorney general was one of those who threatened suit to force Trump to revoke DACA. Another is that it was long time Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions who announced Trump’s decision to give in to legal pressure and revoke Obama’s DACA program.
Yet another clue is that, when Sessions made that announcement, all the elected Republicans expressed support: surely, they thought that their anti-DACA stance would please their constituents.
Do Alabama’s white voters love Trump, or do they love their litany of grievances and fear of outsiders? I think I know the answer.
Mean though they may be, I don’t think Alabama voters are stupid. I think they always knew that Trump was a jerk–they just believed he was THEIR jerk. But now, strong and loud voices from the extreme right are telling them that Trump is a con man.
Time to burn those MAGA hats.
Only a few days ago Charles Blow rightly described Trump as the King of Alabama:
This is the man we have: one who doesn’t want to lead a country but wants to rule a tribe.
Most of the people who support him are just fine with his approach and behavior. These people baffle the throngs who see a man unfit for office and possibly inching closer to diagnosable insanity.
But I think that if people want to understand what is happening here, to understand why Trump’s support is so strong in some quarters, we need to broaden the scope of inquiry beyond just the Rust Belt states that he won by razor-thin margins and beyond border states where the wall would have great impact.
We also need to look at Southern states that he carried by enormous margins. We have to look at states like Alabama.
In doing so, we have to examine the history of Alabama and see how white supremacy tracks across time and culminates with Trump.
Well, not exactly “culminates.” Because, nutty and racist as Trump is, it could be even worse. You see, the problem is, if you’re the kind of person who likes shit sandwiches, once you’ve tasted the real thing, you’re no longer satisfied with hamburger avec un soupçon de merde.
And so, down in Alabama, it’s looking like Plutocrats, 0; Nutjobs, 10.
Conservatives led by Breitbart News are waging an all-out campaign to stop a candidate backed by Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell in the Alabama Senate special election — putting growing pressure on the president to step away from his endorsement.
With just over three weeks until the runoff, far-right forces are starting to close ranks around former state Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, an evangelical bomb-thrower who famously defied a federal order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from a state building. …
With several recent polls showing Moore with a lead over Strange, Trump must decide whether to spend precious political capital on the senator’s behalf. Prior to the primary, Trump repeatedly tweeted his support for the incumbent and cut a robo-call for him.
But he has said little about the contest since then, other than a post-election tweet congratulating “Roy Moore and Luther Strange for being the final two and heading into a September runoff in Alabama.
“Exciting race!” Trump added. …
“It would be wise for Trump to not meddle in our affairs,” said state Rep. Ed Henry, a Moore supporter who co-chaired Trump’s Alabama campaign. “He needs to understand that we know best. We were savvy enough to pick him. Trust us to pick someone who will make America great again.”
The “wedge” between the rubes and the plutocrats gets bigger and bigger. The Republican “center” cannot hold. And the unspeakable Roy Moore creeps toward Bethlehem to be born.