An Additional Note on Moore Support

To add to my post form earlier, I would recommend this column in the NYT by Quin Hillyer:  How Roy Moore Survives.

He raises two key points that are worth highlighting.  The first, which I did not mention in my post, Alabamians have a deep-seated resentment about perceived out of state inference.  As such, the following is likely representative of a large number of Alabama Republicans:

Cody Phillips, the extremely genial president of the Baldwin County Common Sense Campaign (the local Tea Party’s name), said he thinks Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, is behind the attacks on Mr. Moore. Also, he said, he is sure the leftist billionaire George Soros “has provided a lot of money from the Democratic side.”

And of course Mr. Bannon himself kept repeating variations of the demagogic charge that “the globalists in Washington, D.C.,” eagerly anticipate that “if they can destroy Roy Moore, they can destroy you.”

Keep in mind in terms of explaining outcomes:  it doesn’t matter if any that is true.  It matters what specific voters believe.

The second point is a reinforcement, of sorts, of points I made which is that policy preferences will overshadow allegations.  This is especially true if we consider how most voters acquire information:

a series of polls and anecdotal evidence suggested in the past week that support for Mr. Moore was rallying and that larger numbers of Alabamians now believe the worst allegations against him are fake news. This may be hard for outside political junkies to understand. But political junkies often don’t have a clue how voters think. Avid politicos may think a reasonable reader would conclude that most of the accusations against Mr. Moore are credible. But most Alabama voters, even now, haven’t actually read the original reports. Most of them get their news in snippets, either by word of mouth or in TV reports they half-see while herding kids to the breakfast table.

The easy, not-immediately-illogical assumption by most voters is that allegations from 40 years ago, against a man in the statewide public eye for 25 of those years, are inherently suspect if they arise suddenly in a campaign’s final month. Voters don’t parse the details, and many of them consider Washington Post stories to be mere noise from the hated elites.

[…]

These people at the rally are absolutely not supporting a man for the Senate despite believing he fondled a partially disrobed 14-year-old. They are supporting a man they think did no such thing, but who is being attacked by powers resentful of Mr. Moore’s supposed moral authority on issues like abortion, same-sex marriage and public religious displays.

Indeed.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2017, Quick Takes, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Mikey says:

    I suppose this all adds up to “if Jones is to win, it must be because just enough Republicans are turned off AND just enough Democrats are motivated to vote.”

    In your previous post you did point out Moore lagged Romney by over 340K votes in 2012, so it would seem (assuming voter preferences have stayed roughly the same since then) Republican voter support for Moore is not monolithic. That could, given the additional Democratic motivation Trump’s election has produced, cause Jones to outperform the polls and squeak out a victory.

    I wouldn’t be too surprised if Moore wins, but I’ll be only slightly more so if Jones wins. It seems like a toss-up at this point. Even the RCP average is inside the margin of error.

  2. @Mikey: Pretty much,

    Mostly I am thinking through the question that many have, which is “how can anyone vote for Moore?” And the answer really isn’t all that difficult.

  3. JKB says:

    There was the stumble this week by Jones’ campaign with a flyer that has reportedly upset Black voters. To recent to be bake into the polls, but also in that story it is reported that a call in support of Jones went on about Roy Moore and apparently didn’t broach the issues. I’d say most people, at least outside of Alabama, who have harsh opinions, one way or another on Moore, cannot name his opponent. Not a good position as the “against” Moore tactic seems weak.

  4. Stormy Dragon says:

    larger numbers of Alabamians now believe the worst allegations against him are fake news

    No, larger numbers of Alabamans SAY they believe the worst allegations against him are fake news.

  5. Mikey says:

    @JKB: Wow. The flyer is terrible, but it’s actually the least interesting part of that piece.

  6. MarkedMan says:

    People of integrity look at the evidence and base their beliefs on that. Other people decide what would make them feel good if it were to be true and choose to accept anything that reinforces their desire and reject anything that goes against it. Although the latter sort exist everywhere, the balance has tipped and increasingly they slide into the Republican Party. This is a self reinforcing phenomenon.

  7. @MarkedMan:

    People of integrity look at the evidence and base their beliefs on that.

    Except that a lot of social science indicates that people look at their beliefs first and then decide if the evidence has any integrity.

  8. James Pearce says:

    @Mikey:

    The flyer is terrible, but it’s actually the least interesting part of that piece.

    That piece sounded awfully familiar to me…

  9. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Except that a lot of social science indicates that people look at their beliefs first and then decide if the evidence has any integrity.

    And psychology says that people will avoid cognitive dissonance because it is extremely uncomfortable.

    A marked, but relatively small number of folks have a true deep-seated avoidant personality disorder, but all of us reflexively avoid / deflect / ignore information that conflicts with, or contradicts our deeply held beliefs.

    Whether that avoidance is temporary and we will subsequently then allow ourselves to consider the new “alarming” information, or whether we utterly disallow all contradictory information … Well, that’s one of those things where you are either A or B, but you rarely are both.

    Folks tend to sort out into two camps:

    – “That’s alarming new information! Give me some time to process that.”

    Or,

    – “That’s preposterous and cannot be true because it violates my beliefs!”

    If the new information is unavoidable and pertinent and true, group B will eventually slue around to accept it, but it will engender resentment towards the new truth and those who brought it to their attention.

    Even the 14th Dalai Lama must fight this instinctual tendency.