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TODAY'S HEADLINES (click to jump there; use your browser's "Back" button to return here)
      •  Alabama Declares: "No Moore"
      •  Trump Has a Really Bad Day
      •  Republicans Getting Closer to Tax Deal
      •  Democrats Back Down on Dreamers

Alabama Declares: "No Moore"

On Monday, one poll of the race for Alabama's open Senate seat had Roy Moore (R) up by 9 points. Another had Doug Jones (D) up by 10 points. At least one of them had to be way off. As it turns out, however, both were way off. An average of the two polls would have given you Jones by 0.5%, which was pretty close to the truth. The full truth is that he won by 1.6%, collecting 49.9% to Moore's 48.3%. There were also over 20,000 write-in votes, which might have swung the election if 90% of them had instead been Moore votes. It's certainly possible, but that's a pretty high percentage, even in Alabama. We'll never know for sure, and since Alabama often has Senate elections where (1) the Republican is unopposed, or (2) write-ins are not allowed, we have no real basis for comparison.

In any event, the victory makes Jones the first Democrat to represent ruby red Alabama in the Senate in 20 years. And given that all past Democrats who represented the Yellowhammer State were conservatives, and Jones is a moderate liberal, we're in something of a brave new world here. It will be very interesting to see if he can hold the seat in 2020. On one hand, he'll have incumbency (90% re-election rate) and the (likely) Democratic uptick that happens in presidential years. On the other hand, it's unlikely that his next opponent will be an accused child molester with a lengthy history of outrageous, and often racist, statements. Unless, of course, Roy Moore runs again.

It should be noted that Tuesday's election isn't technically over yet. Roy Moore, showing the stubbornness that got him thrown off the Alabama Supreme Court twice, refused to concede the election Tuesday night. His campaign manager pointed out that the mail-in ballots from the military have not been counted yet, and that if the margin drops from 1.5% to less than 0.5%, it will trigger a recount. Shortly thereafter, Moore himself declared that the fight would continue, and that Jesus would come to the rescue. Secretary of State of Alabama John Merrill, a Republican and Moore supporter, said he couldn't necessarily speak for Jesus, but from where he is standing, it is "highly unlikely" that Moore will prevail.

The former judge could wake up this morning, see the light, and decide to throw in the towel. That's certainly what the punditry thinks will happen. However, that does not seem to be his style. After all, what else does he have to do with his time besides spend another month as a fly in the ointment? Further, there may be "encouragement" from the national GOP to keep things going for as long as possible, so that they have a 52nd senator for as long as they can. That could even include covering the costs of a recount if one is not triggered automatically by the margin dropping below 0.5%

In any event, whether Moore accepts defeat today or next month, there were some big winners and some big losers Tuesday night. Here's our breakdown of who is in each category:


  • Doug Jones: He just became a U.S. Senator, in a bit of a miracle win. More importantly, his acceptance speech was gracious and endearing. He'll face a tough re-election when his half-term is up in three years, but it's plausible that 50.1% of Alabamians could decide he's their guy.

  • The Democratic Party: They shaved the GOP's margin of error in the Senate by 33% (considering Vice President Mike Pence's tiebreaker vote). Further, their slim hope of retaking the Senate just got a little less slim. If they can hold on to their existing seats, knock Dean Heller (R) out in Nevada, and take one seat in Arizona or Tennessee, then they're in like Flynn. Well, not like Flynn, because he got fired. But they're in like Schumer. And all three of these things are well within the realm of possibility.

  • Black Voters: There was little question that black voters had the power to carry the day in Alabama if they chose to do so. And the results validated that suspicion; here are maps of Alabama showing where Jones won (left) and where a majority of citizens are black (right):

    Alabama maps

    The careful reader will notice that they bear a little bit of a resemblance to each other. Jones was fully aware of this; in his speech, black voters were the first ones he thanked. Perhaps now the Democrats should consider recruiting a black Southerner to run for a Senate seat, to see what happens. Maybe Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) might like to take his chances against Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) next year?

  • Tom Perez: The DNC Chair saw his approach to the race validated. In essence, the national Party hid in plain view in Alabama, supporting Jones with money and manpower, but keeping unpopular members of the blue team safely back in Washington. This is the first great triumph of Perez's tenure, and will give him a full head of steam heading into 2018.


  • Donald Trump: The President backed Moore's opponent in the primaries, and came up short. He backed Moore in the general election, and came up short again. He backed Ed Gillespie in the Virginia governor's race, and was on the wrong side of a 10-point loss. At this point, how much political capital does The Donald have left? He can't swing a primary in a red state, nor a close election in a red state, nor an election in a purple state. And in blue states, his popularity ranks right down there with Satan, Harvey Weinstein, and whoever it is that put the Kardashians on TV. Indeed, the lesson that many Republicans will take from Tuesday's result is that the time has come to distance themselves from the President. Late Tuesday night, "Trump" sent a congratulatory tweet addressed to Jones:

    If that really is Trump's work, it was certainly much more gracious and vastly more presidential than the other tweets he sent Tuesday (see below). However, we are skeptical. First, the tweet was sent after Trump is usually asleep. Second, its tone is not at all characteristic. Third, it's grammatically correct, while his tweets often include errers, and almost always include inappropriate Capitalizations.

  • Steve Bannon: Bannon was all ready to anoint himself a kingmaker. He took the credit for Moore's primary victory, and was ready to take the credit for Moore's election to the Senate. That, in turn, was going to be the basis for Karl Rove-like involvement in just about any race that suited Bannon's fancy. He'll presumably still make a go of it, but candidates won't be nearly as quick to embrace him, and donors won't be nearly as quick to get out their checkbooks. Meanwhile, Trump reportedly backed Moore in large part because Bannon guaranteed a win. So, Tuesday's result is likely to strain the relationship even further.

  • The GOP: It's not a total loss for the GOP, since the disappearance of Moore from the front pages and the reduced power of Steve Bannon will improve their 2018 situation. Still the loss of a Senate seat is a killer, especially given how little the party has achieved this year. Further, the Party is in the unpleasant position of having backed a serial sexual assaulter and having gotten nothing for it. The GOP will try hard to make people forget that Roy Moore ever existed. The Democrats are not going to make that easy.

  • Roy Moore: Surely, this is the end of the line for the 70-year-old. He just lost an election that was all-but-impossible to lose. Oh, and his personal reputation is in tatters, while he may soon be facing legal problems due to all the money he took from the "charity" he founded.

For those who like winners/losers breakdowns, Vox, The Hill, Axios, and the Washington Post also have them. Meanwhile, the big stories on Wednesday will be Donald Trump's reaction, Roy Moore's decision, and exactly how long it takes someone on the losing side to start claiming voter fraud. (Z)

Trump Has a Really Bad Day

"This was the worst day of Donald Trump's presidency." That phrase has been uttered often enough that it's starting to sound like a broken record. That said, Tuesday was yet another day that could be worthy of this "honor." The loss in Alabama, of course, was a huge setback. On top of that, however, Trump managed to shoot himself in the foot with a shotgun on Tuesday morning with two of the worst tweets of his presidency, sent within an hour of each other. The first one:

Nothing here is actually truthful, of course, but there is at least some subjectivity to most of it. Whether or not he met his accusers, however, is a purely objective matter. It is clear, beyond all doubt, that whether or not he sexually assaulted these women, there's no question he met most of them. After all, there is photographic evidence in most cases (follow the link to see them; the real winner is a picture of accuser Natasha Stoynoff with Trump and Matt Lauer). This forced the White House into damage control mode, with Sarah Huckabeen Sanders explaining that Trump did not mean that he's never met all of them, just that he's never met some of them. The original tweet, of course, does not make that distinction in any way.

If that were not enough, Trump followed up with this winner:

Again, most of this is standard stuff for him, except those six words in the middle that imply that Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is a prostitute. Once again, the White House had to shift into damage control, with Sanders declaring that, "I think only if your mind is in the gutter would you have read it that way." If that's true, then 95% of the people who read the tweet have dirty minds.

Given that Trump had already hitched his wagon to accused serial sexual assaulter Roy Moore, this was probably not the day for the President to remind everyone of his own misdeeds, his unwillingness to take responsibility for those misdeeds, and his misogynist tendencies. USA Today, for one, has had enough. They unleashed a blistering editorial on Tuesday that begins thusly:

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Tuesday dismissed the president's smear as a misunderstanding because he used similar language about men. Of course, words used about men and women are different. When candidate Trump said a journalist was bleeding from her "wherever," he didn't mean her nose.

And as is the case with all of Trump's digital provocations, the president's words were deliberate. He pours the gasoline of sexist language and lights the match gleefully knowing how it will burst into flame in a country reeling from the #MeToo moment.

A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.

The other 12 paragraphs aren't any more flattering. And it is worth keeping in mind that the paper, by virtue of its status as a national paper, is about as centrist as it gets.

If that were not enough, Trump is doing everything he can to make Gillibrand the face of the Trump resistance. She responded to Trump's tweet with this:

And the icing on the cake is that the next thing on her to-do list was to return to her Senatorial Bible study group. Crossover votes, anyone? We're not getting too far from the point, given Gillibrand's growing national profile, her acceptability to both the moderate and liberal wings of the party, her two X chromosomes, and her not-old-enough-to-collect-Social-Security age (51), that she will be the favorite for the 2020 nomination. (Z)

Republicans Getting Closer to Tax Deal

The conference committee that is trying to cobble together one tax bill from the disparate bills passed by the Senate and the House is making progress. They are close to agreement on a 37 percent top individual tax rate and a 21 percent corporate rate. The former would be a slight decrease from the current bills (down from 39.6%/38.5%), the latter a slight increase (up from 20%). They have also come close to agreement on seven tax brackets like the Senate wanted, rather than the four the House wanted, and have reached the most obvious compromise of them all, capping the mortgage interest deduction at $750,000 for newly-purchased houses. That's exactly the halfway point between the $1 million the Senate wanted and the $500,000 the House wanted.

Of course, this comes with all of the standard caveats. Certainly, congressional Republicans are motivated to get this done, and are likely to prove pretty flexible if necessary. On the other hand, the margin of error in both chambers remains razor-thin, particularly if Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) are having second thoughts. Meanwhile, the goal of getting this done by Christmas is now close to a necessity, since the GOP is going to lose a vote when Doug Jones is seated in January. (Z)

Democrats Back Down on Dreamers

In September, the Democrats had a chance to hold the line on a DACA fix, and they backed down. The government's about to run out of money again, and so the blue team has another opportunity. On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) made clear that they will once again back down, and they will not play chicken with the federal budget.

The not-so-charitable explanation here is that Schumer and Pelosi have no backbone. That's certainly possible. The more charitable explanation is that they think there is a possibility of a bipartisan agreement and that drawing a line in the sand would disrupt that. They may have also predicted that Doug Jones would win in Alabama. The 49 votes the Democrats will have in January, plus Jeff Flake—who has made clear that this is a priority for him—makes 50. Only one more is needed. A bill would also have to pass the House, of course, but the Democrats there, plus most of the Republicans from California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, would likely be able to get something passed. And there have been ample indications Trump would sign it. So. whether the Democrats have a backbone or not, the Dreamers are likely to get some sort of protection eventually. (Z)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Dec12 It Is Election Day in Alabama Today
Dec12 What Happens If Moore Wins?
Dec12 Judge Orders Alabama Voting Records Preserved
Dec12 Booker Will Also Be Tested Today
Dec12 Gillibrand Calls for Trump to Resign
Dec12 Missing from the Russiagate Probe So Far: Steve Bannon
Dec12 Trump Wants to Go Back to the Moon
Dec12 Transgender Soldiers Can Enlist
Dec12 Spicer Writing a Book
Dec11 Another Poll Shows Moore Leading Jones
Dec11 Moore Does Not Like Amendments 11-27
Dec11 Collins Says Senate Will Have a Tough Decision If Moore Wins
Dec11 Senate Republicans Are Attacking the American Bar Association
Dec11 Trump Accusers to Demand Congressional Investigation
Dec11 What is Haley's Long-Term Plan?
Dec11 Poll Says Americans Aren't Buying what the GOP is Selling on the Tax Plan
Dec11 Will the Exit Poll Survive?
Dec10 Mueller Is Certainly Being Thorough
Dec10 Bad Numbers for the GOP
Dec10 Donald Trump Needs a Brain Test
Dec10 Donald Trump Is a Liar
Dec10 Trump's Life in the White House
Dec10 Arab League Condemns Jerusalem Announcement
Dec10 Jones Desperate to Rally Black Voters
Dec10 Please Pardon Our Dust
Dec09 Tax Bill May Allow Dark Money Political Donations to Become Tax Deductible
Dec09 Yearbook Inscription Partly Not Moore's Writing
Dec09 Trump Rallies in Florida
Dec09 Dina Powell Will Leave White House in January
Dec09 Democrats Looking Under Rocks for Competitive House Races
Dec09 Special Election for Conyers Seat Won't Be Until Nov. 2018
Dec09 Democrats Will Restrict Superdelegates in 2020
Dec09 Trump Asked RNC Chair to Omit 'Romney' from Her Name
Dec08 Looks Like There's More to the Trump Tower Story
Dec08 Tax Bill Hits Rough Waters
Dec08 Franken Will Quit
Dec08 Dayton Might Appoint His Lieutenant Governor as a Placeholder
Dec08 Report: Trent Franks to Resign from Congress Just Ahead of a Scandal
Dec08 Congress Kicks the Can a Short Distance Down the Road
Dec08 Trump's Approval Falls with Every Demographic Group
Dec08 Trump to Get Physical
Dec08 Roy Moore, Historian
Dec08 Arpaio "Seriously" Considering Senate Run
Dec08 Vonn Will Represent the U.S., Not Trump
Dec07 Democrats Call for Franken to Resign
Dec07 Bredesen Will Run for Senate
Dec07 Flynn Told Business Associate that Sanctions Would be Ripped Up Immediately
Dec07 The Sausage Machine Has Been Turned On Again
Dec07 Fallout from Jerusalem Decision Begins
Dec07 Trump Slurred His Speech