Commentary: Why Roy Moore is surging in Alabama

One of the first lessons I learned as a young GOP political flack was this: Nothing is good or bad, except by comparison. Democrats hoping to beat Judge Roy Moore and pick up that Alabama senate seat are likely to re-learn that lesson one week from today.

The hard way.

On paper, Judge Roy Moore’s campaign is a fiasco. He’s been credibly accused of sexual misconduct with minors. Multiple accusers have laid out a pattern of sexual pressure on women over whom the former District Attorney had power. And his campaign has taken the unusual step of aggressively calling the alleged victims liars, political plotters, or both.

“Don’t attack women who are possible victims of sexual assault” is one of those other things I learned as a campaign consultant. Add the daily media savaging of Moore’s candidacy and the current conversation about sexual harassment and Democrats should be on the verge of victory, right?

Only they’re not.

The latest RealClearPolitics polling average has Moore leading Democrat Doug Jones by an average of 2.6 percent, almost doubling his margin for most of November, when the news of alleged sexual misbehavior broke. More significant for Moore is that the most recent polls tend to give him the larger leads.

The latest CBS News poll reflects the broader trend: While the race is neck-and-neck among Alabama registered voters in general, “Moore leads 49 percent to 43 percent among the likely voters who are most apt to vote on Dec. 12,” CBS reports. The poll also finds more than 80 percent of Republicans plan to vote for their party’s candidate and “a higher number of Moore’s backers call themselves definite voters than do Jones’ backers”

As one Republican politico told me not long ago: “Moore’s voters have Election Day circled in red on the kitchen calendar.”

So, the candidate with the most baggage is also the one with the most passionate support. Sound familiar? If you were watching the Trump campaign last year, it should.

The interesting question is how Moore went from a candidate who appeared on the verge of dropping out of the race to next week’s likely winner. Some pragmatic analysts point to the mechanics of the election—there simply wasn’t enough time after the allegations surfaced for the GOP to replace Moore on the ballot—and that’s certainly part of the story.

But more significant is that first lesson: comparisons. And the Moore campaign has benefitted from some very helpful ones in the past two weeks.

The Doug Jones Match-Up 


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