Six takeaways from Tuesday’s elections in Alabama
Nationally, it wasn’t the best of outcomes for the Republican Party in Tuesday’s midterm elections. Despite gaining seats in the U.S. Senate, Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives, which will inevitably have consequences for Donald Trump’s presidency.
Back home in Alabama, it was a much different story. The wounds of the 2017 U.S. Senate special election loss appear to have healed, and Alabama is resuming its traditional role as a decidedly pro-Republican state.
Much of what happened was to be expected, but there are a few things that we thought we knew but were verified after the results were tallied.
1) The Alabama Democratic Party needs to do some soul-searching: Earlier this year, there was a move to unseat state Democratic Party chairwoman Nancy Worley. That effort, which was backed by Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook), ultimately failed.
But maybe right now, Democrats wish they had gone with Peck Fox.
As it turned out, Alabama Democratic Caucus chair Joe Reed’s alleged get-out-the-vote effort/shakedown was ineffective (and perhaps non-existent), given Democrats actually lost ground in the legislature.
2) The Monroe County theorem holds: If things were so pro-Republican nationally that the GOP had a shot at keeping the U.S. House and the election was so nationalized, then perhaps there was enough Republican sentiment to flip county offices in Monroe County, a county that went for Donald Trump and Roy Moore but is still still dominated by Democrats at the county level.
Republicans didn’t win any countywide contests in Monroe County. While it looked as if they had a shot based on a Monroe County Courthouse lawn GOP rally in Monroeville held late in the campaign cycle that included an appearance from Gov. Kay Ivey, Democrats held the district and probate judgeships and the sheriff’s office.
If there was a non-metropolitan area outside of Alabama’s seventh congressional district on which the Alabama Republican Party should focus, it is the uniquely situated Monroe County sandwiched between ruby-red Baldwin County and dark blue Wilcox County.
3) Walt Maddox needs a better pollster: Headed into Tuesday’s election, Maddox maintained he was polling within the margin of error. It was all about “#Believe,” and they were in striking distance of a win.
Maddox lost by 20 points, well outside the margin of error, and by more than 328,000 votes. That’s more than the combined populations of Birmingham and Maddox’s hometown of Tuscaloosa.
4) No Blue Wave in Lee and Tuscaloosa Counties: These two counties were thought to be ground zero for any signs of life for a Democratic Party reemergence in Alabama. They went hard for Doug Jones in the 2017 special election.
But it wasn’t to be in 2018.
Maddox lost Tuscaloosa County, his home county, by 30 votes. He lost Lee County by nearly 19 points, roughly 9,000 votes.
5) No Dem upset in state legislature races: Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow (D-Red Bay) came close, but in the end, he was unable to reclaim the seat once held by Roger Bedford. State Sen. Larry Stutts (R-Tuscumbia) was able to hold on to his northwestern Alabama State Senate District 6 seat.
Republican Andrew Jones soundly defeated Rep. Craig Ford in his bid to run as an independent in northeastern Alabama’s State Senate District 10.
And State Sen. Tom Whatley earned a win over Democrat Nancy Bendinger by a 5-point margin in State Senate District 24, which is comprised mainly of Lee County.
6) Alabama’s political media are still irrelevant: Newspaper endorsements, a demand for debates — none of that mattered.
We were told repeatedly by the likes of AL(dot)com and various other political news outlets the people of Alabama deserved a debate between Kay Ivey and Walt Maddox.
Voters shrugged off the newspaper endorsements that were dominated by Democratic Party political hopefuls and did not punish Ivey for declining a debate.
The question is, given this obvious shortcoming of our state’s political media, will they change their ways? Probably not.