The defeat of Republican candidate Roy Moore in the special Alabama race for U.S. Senator is being followed by widespread analyses from conservative and liberal commentators, all putting their spin on the election result and perhaps the best of these after-action reports appears in The Hill.
That longtime Capitol Hill news organ pegs it down pretty well, acknowledging that one of the winners in Moore’s loss is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Grassroots conservatives dislike McConnell, who represents too much of what is wrong in Congress, in their eyes.
“McConnell allies painted Moore as the latest in a line of unelectable candidates who appealed only to grass roots conservatives,” The Hill observed. “They cited figures like Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell and Missouri’s Todd Akin, who lost winnable Senate races in the 2010 and 2012 cycles.”
Because The Hill identified McConnell as one of Tuesday’s winners, that may translate to a loss over the horizon. Sometimes, Republicans seem to excel at two things, running unelectable candidates and publicly dividing against themselves. Voters aren’t drawn to a party that can’t seem to get along, because that often translates to an inability to get anything done.
Democrats, on the other hand, keep their eyes on the prize: Power. They took to heart one lesson above all others from Republican Abraham Lincoln. A house divided against itself cannot stand.
There is another winner not mentioned by The Hill. That’s the gun prohibition lobby, which had fired up its rhetoric machine against Moore as a means of derailing concealed carry reciprocity.
As Erick Erickson wrote Wednesday at Fox News, “Ultimately, Roy Moore failed to persuade enough voters that the allegations against him were bunk. In fact, there is a real lesson to be learned here. Credible allegations must be treated credibly.”
What happened in Alabama is not – as some Democrats hope people will believe – a repudiation of the GOP or even Donald Trump. It appears to have been rejection of a candidate mired in the sort of allegations that have driven a couple of Democrats out of office, and cost other people their jobs in the private sector.
It did no good for Moore to show up at the polls Tuesday on horseback. It may have worked at the September primary when Moore beat incumbent Republican Sen. Luther Strange, the man most analysts think could have walked away with the general election. Lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same spot, not even in Alabama.
The Religious Right helped Moore win the September primary. The Hill analysis identifies that voter bloc as one of Tuesday’s losers.
Also identified as losers are Trump, the Republican National Committee and Steve Bannon, the lightning rod conservative who worked for a time in the White House for Trump.
But is Trump really a loser? Despite coming out strong for Moore in the final days of the campaign, if only to protect that Senate seat for the GOP majority, Trump had warned early in the campaign that Moore couldn’t win in the general election. He was right.
The president also showed some class by tweeting congratulations to winning Democrat Doug Jones. It even appeared as good sportsmanship by reminding Jones that he will face Alabama voters again in the not-too-distant future. Two years in a political campaign is a late start.
Gun owners could wind up losers, too. Moore’s loss could jeopardize passage of concealed carry reciprocity and “Fix NICS” legislation, along with the GOP’s federal tax reform package. The gun prohibition lobby will likely exploit this as another victory.
As Second Amendment activists have been saying, elections matter.