The aftermath of Alabama | Arkansas Blog

The aftermath of Alabama


Quin Hillyer, a conservative columnist who once had a stint at the D-G, offers a tough post mortem in the  New York Times:

Donald Trump and Steve Bannon are politically impotent.

The president and his former grand strategist threw considerable weight behind Roy Moore, the polarizing Republican Senate candidate in Alabama. For the second time this year, the state that gave Mr. Trump crucial early support during the presidential campaign — and his first senatorial endorsement — has rejected the candidate Mr. Trump endorsed for the Senate.
Trump is spinning this morning:

In fact, as CNN's Ashley Killough pointed out, here's what Trump said at the rally where he endorsed Strange: "You've got to beat a Democrat (in December). Luther is going to win easily and Roy's going to have a hard time winning. But I will be backing him if he wins (the primary). I will be backing him, OK? I'll tell you that."

But whatever, the truth is Fake.

Trump's approval/disapproval numbers in Alabama were 48-48 in the exit polls, a disastrous figure for a dead red state that Trump won by 28 points. He is not a popular president. Here's a bigger shocker: Alabama voters only preferred Republican control of the Senate to Democratic control by a 50-45 margin. Again, this is Alabama. And the GOP is actually more underwater in favorability than the Democratic party, according to the exit polls. Opinions of the Republican party were 43-52 favorable/unfavorable, compared to 47-50 for the Dems.

NBC News notes that it wasn't just that Moore was a hideous candidate — Alabama also continued a trend of dramatically increased Democratic turnout this year.

Could last night's result signal a wave that will change the balance of power in Washington? The uphill battle to take over the Senate certainly got more plausible with the pickup. Election prognosticator Kyle Kondik writes that the win in Alabama "opens the door to an unlikely Democratic Senate takeover next year."

More immediately, losing just one vote could impact current policy battles. The GOP will likely move to pass their tax overhaul as quickly as possible, before Jones can be seated. But as Dylan Scott at Vox writes, the election could complicate Republican efforts and imperil the tax bill:
He has opened up a very real, if still perhaps unlikely, path for the GOP’s biggest legislative priority to fail. The worst-case scenario for Republicans — and the only plausible way for opponents to stop a dramatically unpopular tax proposal — has revealed itself.
Given the party's maniacal focus on tax cuts for the rich, it's more likely than not that they'll find a way to ram it through, but as Scott details, things could get sticky: Once Jones is seated, they will have no votes to spare, and Sen. Susan Collins has made demands for bills to stabilize Obamacare that right-wingers in the House want no part of.

The GOP's hope to once again try to repeal Obamacare also just got harder, notes Jonathan Cohn at HuffPost:

The GOP’s margin for error just shrunk by half. That’s a pretty big deal.

As it was, GOP leaders in the Senate couldn’t hold enough seats to pass Obamacare repeal. The closest they came was on repeal legislation in July, when they lost three of their own ― Susan Collins of Maine, John McCain of Arizona and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Some Republicans are hoping to revisit repeal next year, figuring they could flip one of those three to yes. Now, with Jones and the diminished GOP majority, they’d have to flip at least two of them. That’s a lot more difficult, especially since none of those three have shown any sign of wavering on their core commitment to preserve the program’s Medicaid expansion and protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
Roy Moore is thus far refusing to concede, but no one outside his camp seems to be taking him seriously. Even Mike Huckabee says it's time: "Roy Moore won’t concede; says will wait on God to speak. God wasn’t registered to vote in AL but the ppl who voted did speak and it wasn’t close enough for recount. In elections everyone does NOT get a trophy. I know first hand but it’s best to exit with class."

Meanwhile, a Bloomberg TV correspondent reports that a source close to Steve Bannon says, "This doesn't stop Steve's war against the establishment, all it does is pour gasoline on top of it." So there you go. Perhaps someone should introduce Bannon to Jan Morgan, the gun range owner considering a primary challenge against Asa Hutchinson.

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