Roy Moore lost on December 12. The Republican Party did not lose, Donald Trump did not lose, and the conservative agenda did not lose. Roy Moore lost. That is all.
Look, before the sexual abuse allegations hit the news (conveniently after Moore defeated Donald Trump’s pick, Luther Strange) this was going to be a paint-by-the-numbers election in deeply Republican Alabama. Doug Jones would put up token opposition and lose by twenty points. Jones never had a chance of winning this seat, unless his opponent was caught in a scandal. Sure, a lot of establishment types would have wailed about Moore’s stance on state sovereignty, but he would have easily won the race.
Were the allegations against Moore true? At this point, it does not matter. The charges deeply wounded him and put the race in play. A seat that should have been a Republican landslide turned into a nail-biter that went down to the final buzzer. A lot of people were creeped out by Moore, and they could not stomach voting for him. Even with the sex abuse scandal, Jones barely won, 671,151 to 650,436. Had Alabama been a more evenly divided state, Jones would have won by at least ten percentage points, if not twenty.
But we should not make this into something bigger than what it is. Alabama is a deep red state, and Republicans win easily there. This was not a rejection of Trump, who won Alabama in dominating fashion. It was not a rejection of the Republican Party, or of conservative ideals. People in Alabama are deeply conservative. It was a rejection of Roy Moore, due only to the sexual abuse allegations and the allegations that he dated teenage girls while he was in his 30’s. Jones might be celebrating now, but the odds are heavily against him holding onto that seat the next time he is on the ballot.
There does need to be a housecleaning after this loss, though. A lot of conservatives openly opposed Roy Moore, both because of the sexual abuse allegations and his views on state sovereignty. But some conservatives behaved dishonorably and it is important that they face consequences.
First, Jeff Flake should be disciplined by the Senate leadership for donating to Doug Jones and bragging about it on Twitter. That should start with taking away his committee assignments. Let the Democrats give up a spot on their committees fro Flake, but the Republican leadership should not reward this kind of a betrayal.
It is understandable that some Republicans would refuse to support Moore, even if the sex abuse scandal had never happened. Refusing to support him is one thing. Openly supporting and donating to a Democrat – especially a militant pro-abortion extremist like Doug Jones – is far beyond what is reasonable. The principled stand, if Flake (or others) must oppose Moore, is to support a conservative independent or write-in candidate. Supporting a Democrat is not reasonable.
This was not a big Democratic victory, nor was it a Trump/Republican/conservative loss. It was an anomaly, driven by scandal. Deep down, everyone knows that under normal circumstances no Democrat had any chance of winning that U.S. Senate seat. That is why all of the analysis is laughable. The circumstances here were hardly normal.