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Long Way to Election Day in Alabama

There used to be a show on TV called “Short Attention Span Theater,” in which stories were distilled down to just a few minutes of performance. But the title could also be applied to American politics. For instance, with all the shootings, you’d expect lots of talk about gun control, but after every massacre, there’s about two weeks of hand-wringing, and then, nothing happens. Instead of freaking out about “gun rights,” gun fans should just say, “gosh, that’s awful,” because the whole topic would be forgotten even faster if there were no conflict involved.

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We bring this up because Hot Air has a new story suggesting that the people of Alabama will have forgotten Roy Moore’s foibles by Thanksgiving, so the Dec 12 election is a long way away. If there are no new allegations, the voters there will see it as old news, in the same way Donald Trump skated to victory after the Access Hollywood debacle.

A not implausible scenario: Moore presses on, with the media landing no further major hits on him a la yesterday’s Beverly Nelson press conference. His polls dive, but everyone temporarily loses interest over the Thanksgiving holiday. When Alabamans tune back in the week after, there’s Moore on the stump, defiant as ever, letting Mitch McConnell and the Beltway phonies have it. People begin to forget the details of the allegations; it’s “only” five women, after all, far fewer than accused Trump.

They could have been making it up, couldn’t they? HIs numbers begin to recover. Fencesitting Republicans admire his resolve in refusing to be pushed out of the race and reluctantly come home to him on Election Day.

Nobody knows what Trump will say about all this, but Steve Bannon seems to be wavering.

Still, the longer Moore presses on and proves he’s a “fighter,” the stickier things are going to get for Trump and Steve Bannon, his populist fellow travelers. The Daily Beast reports today that Bannon is staring to waver, understandably, in light of the charges against Moore. But Bannon can’t afford to pull the plug on his support; if Moore fights on and wins it’ll be a double humiliation for Bannon, proof that Moore (and populism) never needed him to succeed and that Bannon doesn’t have nearly as much stomach for #WAR as Moore himself has. Bannon may think that Moore’s locked in here with him but really Bannon’s locked in here with Moore. There’s nowhere to go.

In another Hot Air story the site reports on a poll that says 37% of Alabama Evangelicals are more likely to vote for Moore after they heard the sex allegations.

This data says more than it appears to in that, while I doubt any evangelicals are endorsing grown men dating 17-year-old girls, clearly the idea of it bothers them less than the media coming after Moore does. That’s an interesting ordering of priorities for a segment of the population that preaches the importance of following Christian morals. It reminds me of this legitimately shocking PRRI survey taken last fall, after the “Access Hollywood” tape emerged: . .

The share of evangelicals willing to support a candidate guilty of personal immorality more than doubled in just five years to accommodate Trump, moving from a less than one-third minority to a better than supermajority.

Moore still has a lot of support inside Alabama, and despite the media frenzy expecting him to step down, the betting site, PredictIt has an unusual divergence. In one “market,” the “Republican” is given a 58% chance of winning, as of this writing, opposed to the “Democrat” having 42%. However, when the candidates are named, Jones has a 45% chance of winning, while Moore has only a 37% chance. This could be explained if one were to say that a Republican might win in a write-in, but as a write-in candidate, he or she wouldn’t be listed as a “Republican.”

A lot of it will depend on what Donald Trump does, and Fox News says it’s “his move.”

Your move, President Trump.

That’s the feeling among Republicans as the party scrambles to deal with the political fallout involving Alabama Senate nominee Roy Moore, who is denying allegations that he pursued sexual relationships with female teenagers while an attorney in his early thirties.

He could side with Republicans who are condemning Moore and call on the candidate to drop out ahead of next month’s election.

He could put pressure on Moore by saying he would support his expulsion from the Senate if elected.

He could support a write-in effort, asking Alabama Republicans to support someone like Attorney General Jeff Sessions instead of Moore, whose name cannot be removed from the ballot.

Or he could choose not to intervene, bucking establishment Republicans and saying Moore’s future should be left to the voters in Alabama. . .

But there’s also the possibility of a political backlash in Alabama, where Trump remains popular but he could anger Moore’s supporters by moving to stop him.

It’s an uncomfortable situation for Trump, and the best solution may be to do nothing at all—just say it’s up to Alabama voters to decide. Regardless, as the Hot Air story suggests, Moore could use the old Mark Twain line, “the stories of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

Goethe Behr :Goethe Behr is a Contributing Editor and Moderator at Election Central. He started out posting during the 2008 election, became more active during 2012, and very active in 2016. He has been a political junkie since the 1950s and enjoys adding a historical perspective.

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