Democrats excited about Virginia became ecstatic last week when it became clear they had a shot at flipping Jeff Session’s open Senate seat. Former twice Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore won the GOP primary to square off against Democrat Doug Jones.
But, since that time a number of women have come forward to accuse Moore of sexually harassing or molesting them when he was District Attorney in his 30’s. Moore has vehemently denied the allegations and refused to end his candidacy leaving national, not necessarily state Republicans, with few options. National Republicans have all but ended their support for his effort and almost seem to be wishing the Democrat wins the seat. That way, the GOP Senate Caucus can argue Moore was a one-off and they respect women (just not the premise innocent until proven guilty).
Republicans, reeling from a shellacking last Tuesday and focused on tax reform could not have gotten worse news than that from Alabama. But, on Thursday, Republicans might have been sent a god-send when Senator Al Franken (D-MN) was accused of groping a woman during his SNL days.
Republicans are still rightly worried about Roy Moore. Even if Moore loses the GOP will be tainted by his candidacy. If he wins, the Senate GOP will have a rabble-rouser who does not recognize Supreme Court rulings and an accused sexual molester in their Caucus.
Republicans evidently think the latter is worse than the former. Almost every national Republican has cut off their support for Moore. Ironically, it probably will not help Republicans whether he wins or loses.
Democrats have played up the growing gender gap in American elections since 2006. In the last three Presidential elections, Democrats have won the female vote by double-digits. In fact, the only near-term election in which Republicans have won the female vote nationally was in 2010 (according to exit polls) by a single point.
Democrats are sure to hit up the same “War on Women” line they utilized in 2012 and 2014. After Trump’s Hollywood Video audio broke, Democrats utterly ripped into Trump. This, after he said a litany of things ugly and repulsing to women. However, Trump did no worse among women than Romney did according to exit polls.
Republicans are rightly concerned about the deleterious effects of Trump’s approval on their chances to hold the House and gain seats in the Senate. But, the party is also extremely sensitive to its reliance on older, white voters and wants to extend an olive branch to suburban, moderate women.
Republicans are moving full speed ahead on tax reform and are hoping some legislative achievements will limit their midterm losses. They don’t want the distraction of Roy Moore, worry he might even vote no on tax reform and will be a tool for Democrats to paint Republicans as a bunch of old, white, sexist white men. Not that Roy Moore losing would change Democrat’s strategy.
The downsides of Republicans turning on Moore are not yet apparent. But, many voters who backed Trump did so not because they liked the guy but rather because he actually fought back against the Left. They don’t believe the same of Congressional Republicans and the party’s abandonment of Moore is just more proof of this.
Republicans are not likely to get much upside out of abandoning Moore. The media is not going to suddenly congratulate the party and Democrats certainly will not become glowing in their critique of the governing party. At this point, Republicans are better off sticking with than abandoning Moore. To bad they already have made their choice.