The Alabama Senate race is over. Doug Jones – improbably – is coming to Washington as the next senator from the state. Roy Moore isn’t.
How did this happen? And what does it tell us about the state of the electorate heading into the 2018 midterms?
That’s where the exit polling from last night in Alabama comes in. I spent the morning scanning the data in search of clues for how people feel about the country, the President and the two political parties on the verge of a midterm election year.
My conclusion? There’s a lot of reasons for Republicans to be very nervous. Obviously Alabama is not the US and Moore is not every Republican candidate running in 2018. Still, there are lots of warning signs in the Alabama data for the GOP heading into next year.
Here are the eight scariest data points for Republicans:
1. Moore won only among old(er) voters
Among those 65 years old (and older), Moore won by 19 points. Among all other voters – aged 18-64 – he lost by eight. The problem for Republicans? Almost eight in 10 voters were 64 years old or younger. And the younger the electorate got, the worse Moore did. Among those 18-44, he got walloped by 23 points. Moore’s loss was particularly pronounced among voters aged 30-39 where he took just 32% of the vote as compared to 66% for Jones.
2. Moms walked away from Moore
Women with children made up one in every five voters in Alabama on Tuesday. And man, did they revolt against Moore. Jones took 66% to Moore’s 32% among women with children as opposed to a 55%-44% margin among women without children – and the overall 52% to 47% edge he had over Moore among all parents. It’s possible that the allegations against Moore of sexually inappropriate behavior with teenage girls swayed the “mom” vote more toward the Democratic side than in a different election without a Roy Moore figure in the race, of course.
3. Moderates fell for Jones
More than three in 10 voters on Tuesday described themselves as ideologically “moderate.” (Another 41% said they were conservatives and 23% identified as liberals.) Jones cleaned up among moderates, winning 74% to Moore’s meager 25%. That number suggests lots of Republicans with qualms about Moore were willing to cast a ballot for Jones. It also means that the much-coveted middle of the electorate handed the Democratic nominee a massive margin.