‘Red tsunami’ overwhelms Alabama Democrats on Election Day
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Republicans crushed Democratic hopes of building on U.S. Sen. Doug Jones’ victory last year, with GOP enthusiasm and support for President Donald Trump overwhelming the Democrats’ rekindled energy.
Republicans swept all statewide and contested congressional races on Tuesday, maintaining Alabama’s status as exceedingly tough territory for Democrats.
“No blue wave and no blue ripple,” said political scientist Jess Brown.
Alabama Democrats entered 2018 with renewed enthusiasm after Jones upset Republican Roy Moore. The special election was something of an anomaly in that it pitted a well-funded Democrat against a polarizing Republican who became additionally wounded by sexual-misconduct claims. But it gave rise to the hope that a Democrat could win again statewide or at least create tight races.
That did not materialize Tuesday.
Brown said 37-42 percent had been the ceiling for most statewide Democratic candidates in recent years, and they didn’t break “out of that mold.” Unofficial returns show that most statewide Democratic candidates, including gubernatorial challenger Walt Maddox, were kept at around 40 percentage points.
Republicans picked up six seats — previously held by Democrats or independents — in the Alabama Legislature, where they already held a lopsided majority. Republicans will hold 77 seats in the 105-member House and 27 in the 35-member Senate, according to unofficial returns. The Democratic losses leave just two white Democrats in the Legislature, one in each chamber.
Alabama Republican Party Chairwoman Terry Lathan said a “red tsunami” swept over Alabama.
Lathan said an already strong GOP base was energized by the national political landscape.
“I do believe this state is so pro-Donald Trump and the conservative policies that he’s implemented, they heard him and they watched him. He was a machine the last month going all over the country. While he might not have been here, we heard his message,” Lathan said.
According to AP VoteCast, a national survey of the electorate and nonvoters, a majority of Alabama voters thought the country was on the right track and had positive views of Trump and the national economy.
Sixty-one percent of voters in Alabama had positive views of Trump; 61 percent said they approve of how he is handling his job.
For 42 percent of Alabama voters, Trump was not a factor they considered while casting their votes. By comparison, 37 percent said a reason for their vote was to express support for Trump, and 21 percent said they voted to express opposition to Trump.
Alabama House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels said Democrats need to have a conversation about party infrastructure and brand.
“I think right now we just have to have a real heart-to-heart conversation about infrastructure,” Daniels said.
Daniels said he believed proposed constitutional amendments to restrict abortion and allow public display of the Ten Commandments also drove Republican turnout on Tuesday.
Some Alabama Democrats this summer unsuccessfully pushed for new party leadership, saying the state party wasn’t doing enough to help candidates.
“In Alabama, it obviously didn’t turn out the way we had hoped,” Alabama Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Worley said. But Worley said the positives included a slate of first-time candidates who gained experience.
“The hopeful sign here is we have people who are willing to run. They are talented. They have the right message for progress in our state,” Worley said.