By Steve Flowers
As this 2020 Presidential election year comes to a close, allow me to share some final thoughts on the results with you.
As you might expect, with this being the year of one of the worst pandemic viruses in human history, that virus would have an effect on politics. Surprisingly, given the fact that people were told to not go out and be around others, you had a massive turnout nationwide. In Alabama, the voter turnout was unprecedented and record breaking, especially among Republican voters. Donald Trump’s popularity in the state drove the turnout. He eclipsed his 62% landslide against Hillary Clinton. He garnered 63% of the amazing vote and provided coattails for Republican Tommy Tuberville and allowed the Coach to annihilate Democrat Doug Jones by a whopping 60 to 40 margin.
This year’s vote confirms the fact that a Democrat cannot win a statewide race in the Heart of Dixie. If Democrat Doug Jones can outspend Republican Tuberville $25 million to $7 million, a 4 to 1 advantage, but only manage to get 40% of the vote, that ought to tell you something. Forty percent appears to be the maximum threshold for a well-financed, articulate Democrat in the state. Currently we have 38 elected statewide officeholders in Alabama and all 38 are Republicans. Therefore, winning the Republican nomination for a statewide office in Alabama is tantamount to election.
The nation is divided politically in a deep chasm. Most of rural, middle America in the Heartland of the country is colored Republican red. The east and west coast metropolitan states, primarily New York and California, are liberal blue states. If you take out the large runup of votes in California for Democrat Biden, then the race was close to being 50/50 between Trump and Biden. However, the national popular vote is irrelevant, as we elect our president under an electoral college system.
This election confirmed that there are 10 battleground states where the election is decided. In the other 40 states, the hay is in the barn. Alabama is reliably Republican, and California is solidly Democratic. Therefore, sophisticated, pinpoint campaigning is focused on Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and now the sunbelt states of Arizona, North Carolina and Georgia. Campaign strategists can even determine the zip codes, neighborhoods and locales that will determine the outcome in these swing states.
It was obvious that Democrats knew all along that the race would boil down to Michigan, Wisconsin and especially Pennsylvania. Democrats had lost these three states by a razor-thin margin to Trump in 2016 and they were the reason Trump edged Hillary Clinton. The key to victory was turning out the Democratic African American vote in Philadelphia and Detroit. Early voting and especially mail-in voting helped accomplish this mission.
Another proven political maxim applied: “Primarily, more people vote against someone than for someone.” More people voted against Donald Trump than voted for Joe Biden.
One final thought on presidential politics. The national television networks are unabashedly and unashamedly biased – all of them – and polling may be dead. Very few people, especially Republicans, will trust poll numbers again. One final day poll had Biden beating Trump by 18 points in Wisconsin. He carried the state by less than 1%.
More important for Alabama is that the Republican party will more than likely keep the majority in the United States Senate. In the Senate the majority party makes the rules and gets all the committee chairmanships. Our Senior Senator, Richard Shelby, will retain the chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee as well as Chairman of the subcommittee on Defense Appropriations.
If you do not think federal defense dollars are important to Alabama, you best think again. No state in the nation benefits more from federal defense dollars than Alabama. Shelby’s prowess at bringing home the bacon to Alabama is legendary. His chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee is probably Alabama’s number one economic engine. Therefore, Tuberville’s defeat of Jones was good for Alabama because it allowed for a Republican pickup over a Democrat and probably ensured the Republican majority in the Senate.
The current Senate count is 50 Republicans and 48 Democrats. There are two seats in Georgia that will be decided in Special Election runoffs on January 5. The Republicans will be favored to keep these two seats.
In closing, for Alabama’s sake economically, it is more important that the U.S. Senate is majority Republican because of Richard Shelby than who won the presidency.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers 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.