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Congratulations to colleague Rex Nelson on his prediction and to Alabama and humanity on the outcome.

On a panel at noon Tuesday at the Political Animals Club, I predicted that Alabama was so overwhelmingly conservative and Republican, and so heavily evangelical among those Republicans, that the state would make a moral calculation to cast one dirty vote for a creepy sinner in pursuit of a greater supposed righteousness.

That supposed greater righteousness would be in the form of allegiance to the anti-abortion cause, resistance to gay-rights advancements and solidarity for gun rights.

I thought Alabamians, all too typically of America's political cancer, would prioritize their tribe--meaning their collective partisan interest--over personal morality and positive personal attributes once thought to make one worthy of public office.

I predicted that Roy Moore, credibly accused of improper overtures to girls much too young for him, would win the special election in Alabama for the U.S. Senate.

I did it because I never expect anything but the worst politically from Alabama. I also tend to make pessimistic predictions as a kind of defense mechanism. I could imagine a Democratic senator from Alabama about as credibly as I could imagine the Crimson Tide with a 4-8 record.

Rex, on the panel and asked for his prediction, said he'd go out on a limb and predict that the Democrat, Doug Jones, would win by the "narrowest of margins." He not only turned out to be right, but was spectacularly precise until the final votes. The ultimate margin for Jones swelled beyond the narrowest imaginable to a clearer besting of 50-48.

It's clear that Alabama's black voters were much more motivated for Jones and against Moore than white rural conservative voters were motivated for Moore and against Jones.

Black votes in the cities and the so-called Black Belt, named for the soil and not the race pattern, turned out in significantly higher percentages--between 70 percent and 75 percent--than white rural evangelicals, who turned out at 55 percent to 60 percent.

It must have mattered--as it should have--that Jones was a former U.S. attorney who secured two long-after and case-closing convictions against two white supremacists in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963 in Birmingham that killed four young black girls.

And a decisive number of those white rural evangelicals spurned that dirty vote for a sinner in pursuit of a greater righteousness. They didn't vote for the Democrat directly, but indirectly, by staying home.

The sad factor amid the raging happiness of the outcome is that Moore deserved to lose on matters far preceding the sex-related charges, but probably would not have.

As the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, he built a monument to the Ten Commandments at the Justice Building and then defied a federal court order to remove it. He believed that his personal and extremist religious views, not the finding of a higher court representing a state kept vitally separate from religion, should be the rule of law in Alabama.

He once said America was a better place when families were stronger even if those families were keeping slaves.

Moore's wife said he couldn't possibly be prejudiced against Jews because one of his lawyers was Jewish--a variation on the old racist refrain that one couldn't be racist because one had known many black people and some of them were good ones.

Then, late Tuesday night, Moore refused to concede clear defeat, essentially arguing that a few hundred provisional and military ballots could erase a 21,000-vote deficit. And he said God would provide, quoting from Psalms and fumbling around to say he and his supporters had been declared "unfaithful" and "put in a hole."

It was unclear what that meant. The comments were as odd as riding to a polling place on a horse or waving a handgun at a political rally.

So, some in the evangelical congregation simply stayed home from church. This preacher was too weird, too much to excuse. These folks didn't change churches. Certainly not. They worshipped just this once at home.

The big losers?

President Trump was one, based on his endorsement of Moore and his robocalls for the strange fellow.

But, perhaps more than Trump, angry alt-right extremist Steve Bannon got a serious comeuppance in a state that he thought certain to swoon at his fire-and-brimstone preaching about the "deep state" and the lying liberal media.

And I'm a loser as a failed predictor, being of such little faith.

So, for the rest of the story, maybe Rex will give his love of Arkansas a rest in a forthcoming column and elaborate on his command of Alabama.


John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, was inducted into the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame in 2014. Email him at Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.

Editorial on 12/14/2017

Print Headline: Of winners and losers

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  • BoudinMan
    December 14, 2017 at 7:26 a.m.

    The demise of decency among the electorate in Alabama had been greatly exaggerated. Thank you, Alabama!

  • TimberTopper
    December 14, 2017 at 7:40 a.m.

    Enjoyed the read, John.

  • hah406
    December 14, 2017 at 8:10 a.m.

    I like what Huckabee said yesterday, that "God's not registered to vote in AL." He urged Moore to exit with grace, and instead he is making a fool of himself waiting on provisional ballots and divine intervention.

  • lohr52
    December 14, 2017 at 8:43 a.m.

    Before the sex related stories and immediately after the Republican primary (where mainstream R's endorsed and campaigned for Sen. Luther Strange) one of the talking heads said "They may have nominated the only man in AL that could lose to a Democrat".

  • Foghorn
    December 14, 2017 at 8:48 a.m.

    I think many of us are reading way too much into the very narrow win over Moore. There was no sea change in AL. There is no sea change in America going into 2018. It’s an illusion, and potentially dangerous DElusion. There’s an excellent article in today’s NYT by Bret Stephens which I encourage all to read. Anyone still celebrating Tuesday’s win needs to have some strong coffee and sober up. There’s a lot of work still to be done.

  • PopMom
    December 14, 2017 at 9:15 a.m.


    There is much work that needs to be done, but I believe that the American people will rise up and do it. What happened in Alabama is that many young people, blacks (especially women), and women with young children took matters into their own hands and got out and vote. I also concur with what Lohr said. People will not get really riled up until the Republicans try to mess with Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security in January. If they get this tax bill passed, we also are going to look at massive debt and tax increases. It is ironic that the Democrats are going to have to be the party of financial responsibility. The Republicans have sold their souls to the extremely wealthy.

  • conwaykram
    December 14, 2017 at 9:25 a.m.

    Still, there are 650,000 people in Alabama that, sadly, voted for Roy Moore,and could stomach his crazy hateful ideas, or bought in to the poisonous Kool Aid of Bannon. Hard to imagine.

  • MaxCady
    December 14, 2017 at 9:59 a.m.

    There's more bible thumpers in Bama than Arkansas!

  • BirdDogsRock
    December 14, 2017 at 10:44 a.m.

    Conway, I hear what you are saying, and as a native Alabamian I couldn't be more disgusted. But I also wonder what percentage of Arkansans would have voted for Roy Moore under similar circumstances? I bet Roy would be very competitive here in Arkansas.

  • Packman
    December 14, 2017 at 11:05 a.m.

    Hey DoubleBlind - Stop it. Please, just stop. It's best for America if libs misread the Alabama election results and stick to their habit of opposing tax cuts, supporting abortion on demand, trying to repeal the 2nd Amendment, and accepting cash from Hollywood rapists.
    My contacts in Montgomery predicted a Jones win, but thought it would be by a larger margin. Their bubble was urban voters and they miscalculated the low turnout in rural Alabama. Which is a tribute to rural voters. They showed proper disdain for tribalism and affirmed independent thought. Alabama voters are to be commended. Especially in two short years when they replace Jones with someone more in line with Alabama values (God, Guns, and Babies In The Womb).