One brief note on last night’s result in Alabama: In last year’s senate race won by Richard Shelby, there were 3,631 write-in votes. At time of writing with 98% reporting, there are 22,019 write-in votes in the run-off election.
That differential—roughly 19,000 votes—is stark in itself, especially when you consider that Doug Jones won by roughly 9,000 votes.
That said, we should push this more. In 2016, there were a total of 2,087,444 votes in the Alabama senate race. Of the lot, 3,631 were write-ins, as we already said. That is .17% of total votes in the election. In last night’s vote, again with 98% reporting, there are a total of 1,290,856 votes with, again, 22,019 write-ins. Percentage wise, then, only .17% of all votes in last year’s election went to write-in candidates. But a full 1.7% of all votes this time around were for write-ins. Relative to total votes, then, we saw a 10x increase in write-ins compared to an election that happened 13 months ago in addition to a drop off of roughly 800,000 total voters, which would suggest many more pro-lifers simply choosing not to vote.
Admittedly, it is still early and I’m not yet aware of any solid data analyzing the write-in voters in this election. That said, given what we know about Alabama demographics, it is not unreasonable to suspect that a huge part of this shift is from principled pro-life voters who felt… well, very like the way I felt as described in the piece published yesterday. They couldn’t vote for Moore because of his character. They were extremely reluctant to vote for Jones because of his abortion views. And so they decided to abstain.
This is the message to the GOP: Stop ignoring us. Stop pretending you can count on our votes. Stop thinking of us as useful idiots. Last night, we were almost certainly one of the two main reasons you lost a senate seat in Alabama—repeat, in Alabama! (The other reason is that black voters turned out in droves and helped make sure we didn’t send a pedophile—forgive me, Federalist writers, a hebephile—to Washington.)
But there is also a message here for the Democrats: You trotted out a relentlessly pro-choice candidate to run against a pedophile. And you won. But one of the main reasons you won is because principled pro-life voters couldn’t bring themselves to support Moore. If the GOP trots out anyone besides Roy Moore, this isn’t a close election.
So “stop being afraid to run pro-choice candidates” is a bizarre lesson to take from last night. If my read on the write-ins is correct, this is what we have established:
- Partisanship seems to have some limits.
- Even when running against someone as horrible as Moore, there are an electorally significant number of voters who would sooner abstain than vote for a pro-choice candidate.
Given both of those points, wouldn’t the more logical move be to say that there are apparently pro-life voters who are movable in terms of partisan affiliation and that even some token effort to woo us would probably pay off? (Cue Michael Wear frantically nodding.)
Unfortunately, we aren’t going to find out the answer to that question because the Democrats have decided they would rather applaud the legalized dismembering of unborn infants than even slightly temper their commitment to this brutal regime in order to become a broader, more diverse coalition. And even when confronted with strong evidence that pro-life voters are not immovably tied to the GOP, they will still look at that evidence and say, “see, you can be unapologetically pro-choice and win elections.” It’s maddening, but it seems to be the republic we live in.