There was good news and bad news from Alabama Tuesday in the Special Senate election.
The good news was that Democrat Doug Jones beat Republican Roy Moore.
The bad news was that Alabama is still Alabama
Consider that the majority of Alabama voters are white and the exit polling tells us that despite Roy Moore’s being homophobic, bigoted in so many ways, fond of the days of black slavery, finds the Constitutional amendments that gave citizenship to blacks and the right to vote to women distasteful and despite credible testimony about his early life as a sexual predator, despite all this, in this election:
-Moore won white women as well as white men.
-Moore won among educated as well as uneducated whites.
–Moore won the white vote decisively
And, by the way, despite the accusations of sexual misconduct that rained down on Moore he won the votes of 80% of the Christian Evangelicals who voted.
What is clear is that if a regular, garden variety white conservative male had been the Republican candidate Democrat Jones would have been beaten badly…as has every other Democrat who ran for the Senate from Alabama since 1992.
Yes, Jones ran a very good, smart campaign but he won because Moore was so terrible in so many ways (hold the nose, beyond the pale ways) that it galvanized the opposition to him and minimized his advantages of being white and a Republican.
African Americans voted in sizeable numbers for Jones and enough white voters either crossed over, wrote in another name, or stayed home to make the difference.
That is, indeed, good news and those voters should be commended and thanked.
However, when the final returns lifted Jones to the winner’s circle, some commentators rhapsodized that the results demonstrated there is now a “new” Alabama.
The State is changing, thanks mainly to higher percentages of African American and other minority voters and, yes, a growing number of young white men and women who are “throwing off” the civil war prejudices and bigotry of their ancestors.
But Tuesday’s election does not herald the arrival of a new age.
Alabama is (still) Alabama.