Is this graphic really all we need to know about American or Alabama politics?

Like many of you, I initially despaired when reading exit poll results from the Alabama senate election. It seemed unbelievable that over 63% of white women would vote for a man who was credibly accused of molesting young girls. My first reaction was, “we won this by a hair-breadth, but we have a lot of work to do”.

Then I realized that this not the whole story:

So white non-evangelical women went for Jones by 53%, that is a landslide. It suggests that Moore’s base (and Trump’s) is actually much narrower than some would have you believe.

I do want to note that the racial breakdown of the exit polls has been misread by many to suggest Democrats do not need white voters, or should ignore them. Far from it, there is no way we can be successful without white voters. Whatever you think the demographic destiny of this country might be, we cannot win elections solely as the party of minorities. Here’s why:


Over 73% of the 2016 electorate identified as “white, non-Hispanic”. Let’s set aside, for a moment, the fact that many Hispanic citizens would consider themselves to be white. What Donald Trump recognized and capitalized on, early and often, is the fact that it didn’t matter if he lost 3% of the non-white vote, all he needed was to improve turnout among white voters by 1% to make up for that loss.

I am going to stop here, because I’ve been doing something I actually hate, which is discussing “race” as if it were a real, rather than an imagined construct. But that is the world we live in.

Also noteworthy in the census figure is the fact that the share of white voters hardly moved from 2012 (73.7%) to 2016 (73.3%). This is partly down to Obama not being on the ticket. Whatever our demographic destiny may be, like all demographic changes, it will take a while to get there. So no, we cannot win purely as a party for racial minorities, and anyone who tells you that is being foolish.

I would go even further, and say we should not win elections if we are not run as as a broad based party that seeks to represent all Americas. If we do not stand for equality and equal representation, then we’ve betrayed our principles.

Obama recognized these facts, which is why he went to significant pains to emphasize his universal message (remember “there is no red or blue America…”).

Every part of our coalition is important, and that includes white people. And in fact, white non-evangelicals, even in Alabama, voted for Doug Jones, by enormous margins.

The same is true for the 2016 election. When you look at the exit poll results by race, Donald Trump won white voters 58-37:


But his margin was enormous among white evangelicals, who were estimated to be 26% of the overall electorate in the exit polls.


If you take out white evangelicals, Hillary Clinton won white voters by 5% (49.5-44.4).

It is important to recognize this fact, first because some have begun to doubt whether the left has a universal appeal. But also because it’s not smart politics to ignore the fact that we are winning  majorities among most white people (evangelicals are 36% of the white vote).

But here’s the really positive new, there are some signs of hope for us, even among the group that you may think Trump/Moore have an absolute lock on.

Many evangelicals recognize the madness among their congregations that Trump and now Moore have exposed. In an important article about the role the evangelical movement played in Roy Moore’s campaign, WaPo reported that younger evangelicals turned away from Moore somewhat, as they did from Trump.

Many evangelicals recognize the madness among their congregations that Trump and now Moore have exposed. In an important article about the role the evangelical movement played in Roy Moore’s campaign, WaPo reported that younger evangelicals turned away from Moore, as they had from Trump.

Some evangelicals fear the high support for Moore and Trump among white evangelicals exposes something deeper about the religious group that seems to vote predictably with the GOP. Political partisanship and a disdain for outsiders have become unifying driving factors for white evangelicals instead of the gospel of Jesus Christ, said Birmingham-based Collin Hansen, editorial director for the Gospel Coalition, a network popular among conservative evangelicals.

“You could preach almost any Trinitarian heresy and not one person is going to notice it,” Hansen said. “If you touch on the political things on things they care about like gun control or racism, they’ll have your head.”

Recent political changes, Hansen said, have exposed “the moral and theological rot” in the evangelical church. “There will not be a coherent evangelical movement to emerge from this political season,” Hansen said.…

So there are some signs of hope, even among the group that you may think Trump/Moore/Republicans have an absolute lock on.

The New York Times also covered the growing angst among evangelical leaders over the politicians so many evangelical Christians have chosen to tie themselves to:

“It grieves me,” said Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, a prominent evangelical school in Illinois. “I don’t want ‘evangelical’ to mean people who supported candidates with significant and credible accusations against them. If evangelical means that, it has serious ramifications for the work of Christians and churches.” […]

Jemar Tisby, president of “The Witness, a black Christian collective,” a faith-based media company that provides commentary on race, religion and culture, said in an interview that while Mr. Trump was running, “we were saying, this man is promoting bigotry, white supremacists find an ally in him and this is going to be bad for us. And not only did they vote for him, they voted for him in slightly higher numbers than they did for Mitt Romney. It was a sense of betrayal.” […]

“We’ve let evil overtake the entire reputation of Evangelicalism,” one prominent evangelical author, Beth Moore, wrote on Twitter the day before the election. “The lust for power is nauseating. Racism, appalling. The arrogance, terrifying. The misogyny so far from Christlikeness, it can’t be Christianity.”


The editor-in-chief of Christianity Today, Mark Galli, did not mince words about the impact Trump and Moore have had on the reputation of evangelicals:

No matter the outcome of today’s special election in Alabama for a coveted US Senate seat, there is already one loser: Christian faith. When it comes to either matters of life and death or personal commitments of the human heart, no one will believe a word we say, perhaps for a generation. Christianity’s integrity is severely tarnished. […]

As recently as 2011, PRRI found that only 30 percent of white evangelicals believed “an elected official who commits an immoral act in their personal life can still behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public and professional life.” But by late 2016, when Donald Trump was running for president, that number had risen sharply to 72 percent—the biggest shift of any US religious group. […]

Apparently yes. This is precisely why, when serious and substantial allegations of sexual abuse of minors were made against Roy Moore, many doubled down on their support for him. Within days of this news story in The Washington Post, polls indicated that not only would 57 percent of evangelicals continue to support him, another 37 percent said they were now more likely to vote for him. […]

What events of the last year and a half have shown once again is that when Christians immerse themselves in politics as Christians, for what they determine are Christian causes, touting their version of biblical morality in the public square—they will sooner or later (and often sooner) begin to compromise the very principles they champion and do so to such a degree that it blemishes the very faith they are most anxious to promote. […] No wonder few believe much of anything we say anymore.  —…

Perhaps what is most important in Galli’s editorial is this line:

The gap between rich and poor, the number of abortions and fatherless children, the steady rise of drug addiction, the increasing sympathy with euthanasia—these are but a few indicators that something is deeply wrong.

There are a number of things we will disagree with, but we could conceivably make common cause on the one Galli places first, “the gap between rich and poor”.  We may not be able to persuade all evangelicals, but we may persuade some.

And before you jump up and say that’s not worth doing, remember this:

“[Moore] lost because so many evangelicals didn’t show up,” Mohler told CNN anchor Don Lemon. “That’s the big story … what didn’t happen. You didn’t have any major pastors or evangelical leaders [in Alabama], not a single one, willing to support Roy Moore.

“Given the percentage of evangelicals in Alabama, it’s inconceivable that a candidate supported by them could lose,” the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary continued. “They would not and could not vote for a pro-abortion candidate, and they would not and could not vote for Roy Moore.” (The Post examined why.) […]

While the exit polls don’t publicly release breakouts for blacks by religious affiliation or church attendance, LifeWay Research recently found that black Americans are almost three times more likely than white Americans to hold evangelical beliefs (30% vs. 13%), and twice as likely to self-identify as “born again” (49% vs. 27%). (At Ed Stetzer’s CT blog, the managing director of the Billy Graham Center makes the case for “how black women saved evangelicalism.”) —…

— @subirgrewal | Cross-posted at and

Roy Moore’s small hometown knew something the rest of us didn’t, in 2012.

In 2012, Bob Vance came within four points of beating Roy Moore in a state-wide race for an Alabama Supreme Court seat. Democrats didn’t run against four of the other judges on the ballot, but they did run against Roy Moore. Because he was considered beatable.

In an interview with POLITICO, Vance described how he almost toppled Moore five years ago: by combining strong turnout from African-Americans energized by President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign with aggressive outreach to what he called “reasonable conservatives” put off by Moore’s hard-line politics — outreach that was unusually successful in Alabama’s most-educated suburbs, according to a POLITICO analysis of the 2012 returns. […]

One of the counties where Vance did that best in 2012 was Moore’s home base, Etowah County, despite it being more blue-collar than other places where Vance ran ahead of Obama. “I just chalked that up to the old adage that familiarity breeds contempt,” said Vance, who now wonders if locals had some inkling about the allegations that women have aired against Moore since then. —…

The county-seat in Etowah is Gadsden with a population of 35,000. Gadsden is where a number of women have come forward to say Roy Moore targeted them for “dates” when they were teenagers and he was twice their age.

These are the results for the 2012 general election in Etowah county (PDF link):

2012 Democrat Republican
Obama v Romney 12,803 (30.6%) 29,103 (69.4%)
Vance v Moore 19,054 (45.2%) 23,088 (54.8%)

Roy Moore ran almost 15% behind Romney in 2012 in Etowah county.

In Alabama overall, Moore ran less than 10% behind Romney:

2012 Democrat Republican
Obama v Romney 795,696 (38.8%) 1,255,925 (61.2%)
Vance v Moore 977,301 (48.2%) 1,051,627 (51.8%)

There’s an anti-hometown effect at play for Roy Moore. Alabamians like him less than an average run-of-the-mill, establishment, East-Coast, fat-cat Republican like Romney. The people he grew up with, people who knew him best, they liked him even less.

That’s most likely because they went shopping at the mall he was banned from, knew the football games he tried to pick-up high-schoolers at, and saw him creeping at high-school dances as a 32 year old,.

30+ years later, in 2012, 6,000 of those people decided they knew enough about Roy Moore to cross party lines and vote for a Democrat. At the time, Vance was perplexed at why he did so well in Moore’s hometown:

“I just chalked that up to the old adage that familiarity breeds contempt,” said Vance, who now wonders if locals had some inkling about the allegations that women have aired against Moore since then. —…

Doug Jones has a real chance at beating Roy Moore. Do what you can to help.


— @subirgrewal


Doug Jones can win, but it requires reversing two decades of party decline in 4 weeks.

The polls are close, and Doug Jones has a real chance to win the Senate seat in Alabama. Most pollsters have the race tied or leaning towards Jones. Which means it’s now a turnout game.

Here’s the problem though. The Democratic party in Alabama is so weak, it doesn’t even know who to turn out. The senate campaign is trying to reverse decades of entropy within four weeks.

In recent decades, the state Democratic Party has been known more for its dysfunction than for decisive victories, with the party’s influence now mostly limited to some local governments, including mayor’s offices in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa.  […]  The party’s weakness has left the Jones campaign without some of the resources candidates in other states can take for granted. “There’s just no data in the database,” said Daniel Deriso, the former operations and field director for the campaign for Randall Woodfin, the mayor-elect of Birmingham. “They had to build it all from the ground up.” —…

Jones has been touting a competitive race for months, and there’s good reason to believe Roy Moore’s support was already weak in Alabama prior to the recent revelations about his predatory behavior. The Jones campaign has seen a lot of money come in (250k per day recently, as per NBC), and it will likely end up outspending the Moore campaign. That money would be more effective though, if some basic infrastructure were in place.

But opportunity has knocked on the door of a Democratic operation with the lights out. With a fairly anemic state party, there is little existing infrastructure for routine campaign activities like phone banks or canvassing drives. National Democrats, while helping to pour in money, are taking pains to keep the race at arm’s length, figuring their presence could hurt rather than help Mr. Jones. There are no beloved statewide officeholders or popular party elders to rally the troops. —…

That is one of the consequences of the national party short-changing or outright abandoning large swaths of the country. Yet again, a focus on Washington and blue strongholds has left the party unprepared to capitalize on opportunities. It’s also a disservice to the people of Alabama, and many other states besides that one of the two parties no longer bothers to really compete for their votes.

Republicans have begun to rally around the “we need to elect child molestors so billionaires can have tax cuts” platform. Other Republicans have presented a “he may molest children, but the other guy supports abortion, so it’s all the same thing” defense.

Thankfully, our candidate knows a thing or two. Doug’s campaign is currently running a series of ads featuring Republicans like Ivanka Trump, Jeff Sessions, Richard Shelby and others in campaign ads to keep Moore’s predatory behavior front and center.

You can donate to help air these ads:

PS. If you’re a small donor, make it a regular practice to give to candidates in states where your small donations go a long-way (cheaper media buys etc.)

— @subirgrewal