By many Americans’ standards, Roy Moore is the worst congressional candidate in a long, long time. He thinks America was better during slavery, he thinks homosexual relationships should be illegal, and he thinks there should be a religious requirement to serve in Congress. He’s openly loyal is to Christianity and the Bible before America and the Constitution. It’s unclear if he even thinks women should be able to vote. No matter how conservative or evangelical you are, there are simply too many reasons to want to punch Roy Moore in the face for him to be a strong candidate for Congress. Anywhere. Even Alabama. Dog whistles may still play in the Deep South, but megaphones, evidently, don’t. It’s fair to assume Roy Moore is the only Republican on Earth who could have lost this election.
But he probably would have won if not for the journalism of the Washington Post. About a month before election day, the Post broke the story about Moore allegedly pursuing and sexually assaulting teenage girls. The scoop that forever changed Alabama and altered Congress for at least the next two years.
Whatever you think about Roy Moore’s bigotry, nobody assumed it disqualified him from winning a statewide election in deep red Alabama. Many worried his myriad expressions of divisiveness would prove more popular than ever. Steve Bannon was all in as Moore beat the more-establishment candidate in a GOP primary and was expected to win the Senate seat.
Then America learned Roy Moore is alleged to have had a sexual relationship with a 14 year old when he was in his 30s, and is said to have been banned from a local mall for targeting teenage girls around the same time. Initially, the Post reported on four women; all told 8 would accuse him of sexual misconduct; he denies all of it.
This was different than the overt bigotry and white male evangelical supremacy that America has come to expect in 2017. This was different also than the other high profile allegations of sexual exploitation during the #metoo moment. Predators and racists have daughters, too. Everyone was offended, or at the very least embarrassed.
Even the most faithful Roy Moore supporters recognized the report complicated his path to victory. The Republican National Committee, not a big Roy Moore fan in the first place, initially pulled their support before flip-flopping after President Trump got on board. Before the story even hit newsstands, the alt right had launched a seemingly well-coordinated smear campaign against the Washington Post. Fraudulent robocalls said to be from fake Post reporters portrayed the news organization as having partisan motives. Project Veritas sent an actor to try to trick real Post reporters into exposing bias – a move that instead exposed Project Veritas.
But nobody recognized how damaging it was than Roy Moore himself, who spend the last month of the campaign dodging the press and avoiding public appearances. His hiding may have sealed his fate, but make no mistake what Roy Moore was hiding from: follow-up questions.
Meanwhile, Democrats all of a sudden had reason to believe they could pull off an upset in one of the reddest, most pro-Trump states in nation. Money soon followed. Then came the high-priced strategists, who will invariably heap praise on one another for the win. Black voters came out in astounding numbers.
Perhaps Jones wins even if the world didn’t find out Roy Moore is alleged to have had sexual relationships with teenage girls. Success has many fathers and in any victory there are always a number of ingredients. But the stock in Doug Jones’ victory soup seems to be Washington Post shoe leather.