The Alabama Senate race turned ugly really fast last week when GOP candidate Roy Moore was accused of child molestation. In a Washington Post bombshell, Leigh Corfman alleges that roughly 40 years ago, he initiated a sexual encounter when she was 14 years old and he was 32 and three other women also claim he pursued them in their late teens. Moore has denied any wrongdoing.
Since the story broke, there has been an exodus of Republican support — from pulled endorsements and campaign funding to endless calls for Moore to drop out of the race.
If this sounds familiar, that’s because it is.
Roughly a month before the historic 2016 election, The Washington Post released a bombshell on then-candidate Donald Trump. The infamous Access Hollywood tape from 2005 showed the reality show host bragging about his sexual conquests and using his stardom to grab women by their genitals. This caused utter turmoil in the Republican Party and put his campaign in crisis mode. And what made matters worse for the candidate were the marathon of allegations that several women made in the days that followed. Despite all the pressure, Trump remained defiant. While he issued an apology for the remarks he got caught making, he denied all the allegations of sexual misconduct and against all odds, he managed to win the presidency.
There is a real possibility that we could be witnessing the same thing happening in this Senate race.
Like Trump, Moore’s polling began tanking. While the president never enjoyed such a giant lead against his Democratic rival, the Alabama judge once held a double-digit lead against Doug Jones. Recent polls show not only a dead heat between the two candidates but actually have the Democrat leading in the deep red state.
However, there was this little nugget from the JMC Analytics poll that caught my attention.
The poll shows that among evangelical voters, 37% of them are more likely to vote for Roy Moore after the allegations surfaced. You may be asking yourself, “Why on earth would evangelical voters me more likely to vote for him?” They couldn’t possibly support alleged child molestation, right? Of course not! Perhaps it has less to do with him and more to do with their disdain for the media.
Moore ripped a page from Trump’s playbook and framed this episode as a “witch hunt” and his defenders have questioned the source and the timing of it. This is the same WaPo that endorsed his rival last month and skeptics wonder after decades of public service why such allegations against him would come to light now. The credibility of his accusers and the political motivations of the media to derail his campaign can both be true at the same time.
It was no secret during the 2016 election that the media didn’t want Trump to win. The countless endorsements of Hillary Clinton were one sign, their slanted coverage was another, and leaked emails showed a cozy relationship between them and the Clinton campaign. Their complete meltdown in response to Trump’s victory said it all. And to this day, many in the media will not admit that their overt bias against Trump only motivated his base throughout the campaign. Never in history of U.S. politics did you ever hear people chant “CNN sucks!” at rallies.
There were clear motives surrounding the leak of the Access Hollywood tape. For starters, NBC sat on it for 11 years and 9 of those years were when Trump was the lucrative star of The Apprentice. Secondly, WaPo released it just weeks before Election Day when it could do the most damage. He may have ran a chaotic campaign, but one of his most successful tactics was to build the people’s animosity towards the media, something that has existed long before he came down on the golden escalator in June 2015, but no other GOP candidate took advantage of. Their condescension for average Americans, much like the political establishment and Hollywood, became motivation for those people to jump on the Trump Train. And right now, the Steve Bannon-led Breitbart is also taking advantage of people’s distrust in the media by attempting to discredit the WaPo story on Moore.
In the end, the “secret Trump voters” came through for Trump and there could be “secret Moore voters” that can hand Moore a victory as well. Many Trump supporters told pollsters one thing and they voted otherwise. Throughout the election and especially after the Access Hollywood tape, people were embarrassed to support the candidate. And voters in Alabama could be just as embarrassed for supporting Moore, but when you’re the only person in the voting booth, your anonymity gives you far more comfort than a pollster on the phone.
Whether or not you believe Moore is a child molester, at this point there isn’t any proof that he is. Sure, Moore wasn’t exactly the most convincing victim of false allegations during his interview with Sean Hannity, but that doesn’t change the fact that when you boil down to it, it’s “he said, she said” over events that allegedly took place nearly 40 years ago. And no matter how much opposition he faces from his own party, it appears he’s staying in the race til Dec 12. So while Democrats and the media are rejoicing the suggestive demise of Moore’s campaign, they shouldn’t be celebrating at the 5-yard line. Because we all know what happened last time…
[image via screengrab]