Roy Moore lost. But a tiny margin and there may be a recount but I suspect the result will stick. It was a nasty campaign but enough of the mud stuck that Republican voters stayed home. Turnout was low all round but the Democrats managed to get the black vote out in huge numbers and they were having none of Judge Moore (and really, who can blame them?). I suspect that had I been an Alabama voter I might well have stayed home simply because I find Moore’s socon message deeply unappealing.
Of course we will never hear from any of Moore’s teen dates again. They’ve served their purpose, why run the risk of exposure? And, with a little luck, we have heard the last of Roy Moore.
What we have not heard the last of is the Bannon insurgency. Bannon is a bright guy and he’ll learn from the Moore defeat. I am hoping he learns that to defeat a determined Democratic Party enemy you have to have a candidate with a few less negatives than Roy Moore. And you need a candidate entirely prepared to respond well to whatever dirty tricks the Democrats (or GOPe) come up with. Poor Moore was simply overwhelmed by the deeply deceitful attacks on his behaviour forty years ago.
The second thing Bannon needs to get right is the need to actually nominate candidates for whom the black vote is a locked box. There is a Trumpian message of jobs, jobs, jobs which will resonate in black communities if Bannonite candidates are willing to do the legwork to ensure it is heard. The Democrats tend to see that vote as locked up with only the need to get the black voters to the polls. Bannon needs to hone a message which can reach black voters and break a few of them away from the Democratic plantation.
The third thing Bannon needs to do is understand that the media is the enemy and act accordingly. This is not about yelling “fake news” every ten minutes – the Donald has that covered – it is about providing a counter-narrative to the Democratic talking points so routinely parroted by MSM. But that counter-narrative cannot be the whole socon check list of guns and fetal rights (there is room for that but that is preaching to choir); instead the counter narrative needs to be about working Americans having a hard time because of the swamp creatures in Washington. Teddy Roosevelt got great mileage out of “the Square Deal” and his rather weak attempts to “trust bust”.
The Bannonites can put flesh on the Trumpian bones by taking a serious run at the Googles/Amazons/Apples as essentially monopolists of the internet. And they can take a solid run at illegal immigration as taking the jobs which ordinary Americans, and black and Hispanic Americans, need to get on the economic ladder.
Bannon sees his mission as economic nationalism. There was not a hint of this in Roy Moore’s campaign because, I suspect, it flew right over Moore’s head.
Right now Trump is presiding over a remarkable American recovery. He is winning on any number of fronts and this is likely to continue for some time. Surfing that wave Bannon needs to talk about ensuring that Americans gain the benefits they deserve from America’s economic resurgence.
Finally, Bannon needs to develop a deployable ground game. It does not need to be huge; but it needs to be effective and easy to roll out. Having a couple of hundred activists for each state Bannon wants to contest is an achievable goal and one which is a matter of networking and training. Putting together a mobile campaign school and hitting the key states where Bannon wants to target GOPe incumbents or candidates is a matter of a few million dollars and a bunch of organization.
Alabama was a closely fought battle narrowly lost by a man who, if elected, would have likely been more trouble than he was worth. The Bannonites likely learned a lot. And one of the things they learned is that the GOPe and the Democratic establishment will not let the swamp be drained without a fight. A nasty, street by street, fight.