Alabama, and how evangelicals really voted

Among white evangelicals, Roy Moore wasn't as well-liked as many pundits want you to believe.

In the aftermath of the election in Alabama between Roy Moore and Doug Jones there has been a deliberate attempt on the part of the media to slam and smear religious conservatives for casting a ballot for Moore, the embattled candidate who was accused of sexual assault during the campaign.

Among the voices is Matthew Dowd, ABC's chief political analyst, who often portrays himself as a moderate. Mr. Dowd, in several viral Tweets, has made the correct observation that most of Alabama's white evangelicals – specifically women – cast a ballot for Roy Moore:

The responses to Dowd’s tweet are quite vitriolic. Many of them include stripping away voting rights for conservatives.

On the surface, it all looks legit, right? When you throw in men, 81 percent of white evangelical voters chose Roy Moore as their candidate.

"That’s four out of five. Those Christians sacrificed their souls for an accused child molester," people think. "Such hypocrites they are, only picking and choosing which values they should live by."

But in a state that bleeds religious red, you’d think getting that percentage of the vote would win, right? Well, it didn’t. As we’ll see in a minute, the key issue was voter turnout.

Mr. Dowd has doubled-down on his claims that turnout was fine in a column:

“In 2014, if Roy Moore had gotten the 650,000 votes he got Tuesday night in a race for governor he would have beaten the Democratic candidate overwhelmingly. (The Democrat in 2014 got approximately 427,000 votes). It was a coalition of Democrats and independents that brought Democratic candidates to victory in Virginia and Alabama, not Republicans abandoning candidates out of the mainstream.”

The problem is that Dowd is citing 2014 numbers. What he is not including are 2016's turnout numbers. And Moderate Matthew knows this. He has been called out on Twitter and every time someone brings up 2016 data (the most recent data), he either doesn't respond or deflects.

So, how did evangelicals really vote?

With their butts. Lyman Stone at The Federalist wrote a terrific piece that details exactly what happened. He compares Tuesday’s turnout with the total population of white evangelical conservatives in Alabama, as well as the turnout during the 2016 presidential election. His findings are clear: more than 60 percent of the total white evangelical adults in Alabama did not cast a ballot for Roy Moore. Moore was the least liked Republican Senate candidate Alabama has had in the past 20 years.

Furthermore, he shows what Moderate Matthew doesn't show - half of the GOP's voters stayed home compared to 2016. They chose to sit this one out. I would have done likewise.

“That’s not some marginal change by a few evangelicals of conscience,” writes Stone. “That’s a powerful expression by a large share of Alabama’s electorate that political nonparticipation was better to them than the options they were offered.”

Most pundits are giving credit to the black vote and backlash to President Donald Trump as the difference maker. But the reality is that if these white evangelicals chose not to stay home, any turnout among Democrats and independents would’ve been irrelevant. This is a state Trump won by 19 points.

That means, if you’re happy with Tuesday’s result, you can thank - not disenfranchise - white evangelicals for either staying home or writing in.

But, you ask, what about the 50 percent who did show up? What about those who did vote for Moore? Aren’t they hypocrites?

Half the state of Alabama believes abortion is morally wrong (I happen to agree with them), which means many of them would be extremely reluctant to vote for a pro-choice candidate. It would’ve been interesting to see how pro-life Democrat would’ve performed against Moore.

In any event, no evidence exists that the majority of Moore’s voters are a bunch of hypocrites bent on institutional racism and bigotry.

Furthermore, those who consider this to be a "victory" for the Democrats should ponder something. Despite outspending Moore 6-to-1, despite only half the GOP electorate showing up, and despite a large write-in total, Doug Jones won by only 1.4 percent against a candidate with nine women accusing him of kid touching them as teenagers.

Is this really a big win and the future forecast for the rest of the country? Time will tell.

Either way, Moderate Matthew - who routinely calls out the president for his divisiveness - should be a bit more transparent before prejudicing a significant portion of our population.

Comments
No. 1-8
MarkBerwind
MarkBerwind

Another good summary, etbass. I just saw that stuff about Moore challenging the count in Jefferson County. Thanks, and I agree, he could have campaigned, and if the mouth was measured and consistent, he could have won that race. We would have then had to see what kind of coward McConnell would have been.

etbass
etbass

@MarkBerwind - I haven't heard anything on Jefferson County other than Jones winning 68% when Hillary won 52%. Jones got 92% of Hillary's votes and Moore got about 50% of Trumps. That sounds off at first glance. However when you look at the fact that Trump won Alabama by 28%, then Moore underperformed by 30%. Jones won Jefferson by 38% over Moore, where Hillary won by 6%, or a difference of 32%. In other words, it matches the gap of the rest of the state. The turnout was 44% in Jefferson and the state was 40%, so that isn't abnormal.

On the surface the numbers don't look off. I'm sure there's some voter fraud, as there always is. As Erick likes to say (I think it's him), we have to win beyond the margin of cheating. I have a high amount of confidence in Sec. of State John Merrill. I've seen an attention to detail, disciplined office and transparency by Merrill. If there's anything happening that can be verified, I trust Merrill to find it and expose it.

Democrats saw the once in a generation opportunity to elect a Democrat, and turned out in drives. The GOP largely sat at home. There is the difference. Jones and the GOP establishment didn't win a lot of GOP votes for Jones, but they were successful in getting them to sit at home.

There are plenty of people to blame, whoch I have a post here of. The bottom line is that if Moore had handled this poorly instead of being atrocious, he would have still won. It has to be the worse campaign and defense I have ever seen.

MarkBerwind
MarkBerwind

Have you heard anything new about what is happening with the Jefferson County votes? Is there really a discrepancy? This race was one complete anomaly. It was altered by too many outside influences, the media primarily, and a sad excuse of a lawyer parading a phony victim. The problem is that it worked enough to throw an already sadly influenced primary by a bad senator and his cash.

etbass
etbass

There is no doubt that Republicans didn't show up for Moore. The Democrat turnout was phenomenal. The Secretary of State predicted 25% turnout and it was 40%. He's been pretty accurate in the past. Democrat turnout was the difference.

I encouraged people to go and vote. If they thought Moore was guilty, then write-in someone. A write-in says you reject both choices. Sitting at home is indistinguishable from the people that just don't care. We don't know how many people this was. It was a lot because Alabama didn't suddenly turn purple and there weren't many Republicans voting for Jones or an abnormally high percentage of independents. They didn't get counted by sitting home.

BryanAult
BryanAult

My qualms are mostly with folks like Matthew who judge.