By Steve Flowers
Our 2020 Election was yesterday. The Presidential race was the center of all interest. You know the results; unfortunately, my column for today had to go to press before voting began. As you are absorbing the results, allow me to remind you that we do not elect our president by popular vote but by an Electoral College system whereby the electoral winner of each state, even if by one vote, gets all the electoral votes of that state. Electoral votes are reflective of a state’s population. They are determined by the number of congressional seats plus the state’s two senators constituting their electoral votes. For example, Alabama currently has seven congressional seats and two senators for nine electoral votes. California has 53 congressional seats and two senators, which gives them 55 electoral votes. My guess, a pretty safe assumption, is that Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, carried Alabama handily and captured our nine electoral votes. We have been a Republican state in presidential politics for the past 56 years, ever since the Goldwater Southern Republican landslide of 1964.
Six out of seven of our Congressional seats are held by Republicans. It is a pretty safe bet that all of our Congress people were reelected yesterday. The two Republican seats in Districts 1 and 2 were held by the GOP, and these two seats will be taken over by two new Republicans.
More than likely, the Republican candidate, Tommy Tuberville, won the race for our junior U.S. Senate seat for a six-year term. This has been a Republican seat since Jeff Sessions first won it in 1996. Our other seat has been Republican since 1994 when Sen. Richard Shelby, our senior U.S. Senator, changed to the GOP.
All of our statewide constitutional offices are held by Republicans. Winning the Republican nomination in Alabama is tantamount to election especially in a presidential election year. We are a very red, reliably Republican state. Even both chambers of our legislature are over 70% Republican.
For close to 90 years (1877-1964) Alabama was a totally Democratic state. In the latter part of the last century, folks ran as Democrats not so much out of philosophy but because of tradition. Everybody just ran in the Democratic Primary. It was one grand election.
It changed presidentially and congressionally in 1964 in the Southern Goldwater landslide. Alabamians started voting Republican for national offices that year and have not looked back.
The proof is in the pudding. If indeed Donald Trump carried Alabama yesterday, we have voted for the Republican nominee for President 16 out of 17 times since 1964. Presidential candidates ignore us during campaigns because it is a foregone conclusion that we will vote Republican.
The GOP captured the Governor’s office in 1986. It has been that way for over 30 years now with one exception. The last Democratic bastion, the Legislature, was toppled in 2010 and further entrenched in 2014 and 2018.
Folks, when we change, we change. We do not do things halfway. Fifty-five years ago every statewide official was a Democrat. Our entire congressional delegation was Democratic, and our Legislature was close to 100% Democratic. Today, we are arguably the most Republican state in America from top-to-bottom.
Most parts of the country vote on pocketbook issues. However, it would appear that Alabama and the deep south voters are driven by social and religious issues. When you consider that Alabama may very well be one of the most religious and socially conservative states in America, that makes for a perfect recipe for Alabama to continue as a Republican state for years to come. The more things change the more they stay the same in politics.
Unfortunately, we may be in for a protracted result in our presidential contest. As you read this, we may not know the outcome. We may have a scenario similar to the Florida Bush/Gore debacle in 2000. We may have a problem as severe as 2000, especially in swing states like Florida. However, it may very will be in Pennsylvania due to mail-in voting.
See you next week.
Steve is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.