In their elation over Doug Jones having prevailed in the Alabama Senate race to fill the seat vacated by now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the media are now trying to position the election as a referendum on President Trump.
Take a recent New York Times article, for example, which cites “4 Takeaways from Doug Jones’s Alabama Victory.”
Doug Jones’s win in the “reddest of red states,” the article suggests, signifies that Alabama’s “highly educated and high-income voters, while often open to supporting Republicans, are uneasy with the hard-edged politics of President Trump.” Simply put, this is meant to suggest that the race was a referendum on President Trump’s politics, and specifically, that Moore’s loss was not a reaction to the “claims of sexual misconduct against Roy Moore.” After all, the voting results in the suburbs of Alabama “mirror” the voting pattern of “well-heeled suburbanites” in Virginia last month -- a comparison which I cannot imagine the article’s authors could have typed with a straight face. Comparing the voting impulses of D.C. suburbanites in Virginia to Alabama’s suburbanites is about as apples-and-oranges of a comparison as one might get.
But here’s the interesting thing. Anyone who’s honest knows that the media centerpiece of the Alabama election was the troubling allegations of child molestation and sexual assault against Roy Moore, and the scandal which followed. However, the only other mention of the prominent scandal in the New York Times piece is that that “some of Moore’s allies placed the blame for the loss on [Mitch] McConnell, who withdrew his support after the allegations first emerged that Mr. Moore had pursued teenage girls sexually or romantically.”