The battle for the hearts and minds of Alabama voters will be decided next Tuesday. The end result may have little to do with the sensational headlines of Republican Roy Moore’s private life after all.
It appears the bigger issue may be abortion. The topic is one of extreme sensitivity in this southern state. Moore is a staunch advocate of the anti-abortion movement, whereas his opponent, Democrat Doug Jones, supports abortion rights.
A 2014 poll by the Pew Research Center found 58 percent of those polled in Alabama say abortion should be illegal in most or all cases. That statistic is higher than all but three states. That has become an issue that takes the heat off Moore’s ongoing scandal concerning alleged relationships with underage girls? Moore’s campaign is banking on Alabaman’s conservative principles.
Moore’s campaign chairman Bill Armistead seized on the issue in an interview recently with The Hill. He said, “Nothing is more precious in the sight of most people than the life of the child, so I can see why people in Alabama would be enraged knowing that Doug Jones is willing to take the life of a child.”
Although the comment is extreme in nature, it appears to be resonating with Alabama voters. Armistead continued, “Alabamians are pro-life and as they find out how extremely liberal Doug Jones is on this and other issues like transgender bathrooms, they are going to flee from him. Voters need to be educated on the candidates and the issues regardless of what they are regardless of what other allegations are out there,” he said.
Jones has stated his pro-abortion stance publicly on a number of national news shows ranging from liberal MSNBC to The Huffington Post. In a conservative state like Alabama, that can be disastrous. The national media may dwell on unproven accusations while many in the electorate look elsewhere.
But Jones’s campaign believes his comments frame him as a champion of women. That would be that virtually unrestricted abortion access is a political win.
The issue allows Moore’s campaign to distract the voters from the highly publicized accusations of sexual misconduct that have ravaged his support. Jones briefly took the lead in RealClearPolitics’s average of recent polls. However, as recently as two weeks ago, Moore had a narrow 1 percent lead. Straw polls since then show the margin-of-error leans in Moore’s direction.
Could the abortion angle allow Moore to wiggle out of a sex scandal as the entire nation is focused on cases from Harvey Weinstein to Matt Lauer? It appears than many Alabamans hold the image that Jones would be an abortionist in high office. Polls indicate abortion is one of the voter’s main reasons for discounting the idea of dumping Moore for a less controversial candidate.
The present mood of the country is focused on sexual harassment. President Trump, who has had his own accusers on the subject, has mostly stayed out of the political fray in Alabama. His support one way or another is not politically inviting for his base.
Moore must convince fence-sitting Republicans that allegations against him are unproven and part of a conspiracy to intertwine him in recent molestation allegations nationwide. Will his argument resonate in the present environment?
It is a certainty that if Moore wins, the Democratic minority in the Senate will block his being seated. Their born-again values on female harassment, including their redress of Bill Clinton and the resignation pending from Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), provide the pious attitude to sink the newly elected Republican candidate.
Meanwhile, the ultra-conservative Moore is outspending his liberal opponent, mainly on the airwaves. His message is directed towards potential voters who have been turned off by the sexual allegations. In effect, he is guiding their attention to the shiny light on the other side of the room infuriating the Jones campaign.
It is assumed that most Alabama voters are aware that a vote for the Democrat is a vote for policies supportive of abortion rights. Polling has proven that over the past few weeks.
The Moore campaign has pounced on the few scraps the president has provided them. They claim his nodding head is an indicator of more strongly held beliefs. For Moore’s sake, he better hope that is what Alabama voters think. But if elected, his problems being seated are far from over.
Dwight L. Schwab, Jr. is an award-winning national political and foreign affairs columnist and published author. He has spent over 35 years in the publishing industry. His long-running articles include many years at Examiner.com and currently Newsblaze.com. Dwight is an author of two highly acclaimed books, "Redistribution of Common Sense - Selected Commentaries on the Obama Administration 2009-2014" and "The Game Changer - America's Most Stunning Election in History." He is a native of Portland, Oregon, a journalism graduate from the University of Oregon, and a resident of the SF Bay Area. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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