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.
“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.