I believe I can predict this with a fair degree of confidence based on a couple of things.
First, that it appears, unless there’s a huge upset brewing (always a possibility) that Roy Moore will beat Luther Strange in the Alabama Senate runoff Tuesday.
Three new polls in #ALSen all have Moore up big over Strange.
— Alex Seitz-Wald (@aseitzwald) September 25, 2017
Second, Steve Bannon is still fighting FOR Donald Trump, despite President Trump’s cement-booted political missteps. Bannon, and Trump’s base in Alabama, is more aligned with Moore than with Strange. Strange is the product of the corrupt administration that took down Robert Bentley.
Strange, who was the state attorney general investigating Bentley’s sex scandal, got the appointment in what could have been an apparent quid pro quo arrangement. Moore has made hay on the smell of scandal encompassing Strange’s appointment. That, plus the take-no-prisoners attitude that Roy Moore is legendary for in Alabama has made it very difficult to move voters, despite massive advertising from Mitch McConnell’s super PAC, and a personal appearance by President Trump.
This will not be the kind of rebuke of Trump that many (such as Allahpundit) think it might be. It will certainly test the waters of how much Trump can influence a race in a state he won handily. But the voters who will choose Moore still love Trump. They won’t hold it against Trump that he backed Strange, who was an early Trump supporter. They will simply expect Trump to honor their choice.
And he will. Expect a hug-fest between Trump and Moore after Moore wins Tuesday night. If Moore somehow loses, expect Trump to be gracious to him.
Also expect that Trump will thank Luther Strange for his support and his service, then drop him like a hot anvil. Strange is tied up in Jeff Sessions’ problems, in disgraced former Gov. Bentley’s scandal, and therefore off limits for any political appointment until those issues are resolved. I don’t think Trump could get Strange approved for a federal bench appointment given the potential conflict of interest issues. He’s simply a shade too shady for that.
This will be a victory for Moore, and Trump will make the best of it. There will be no rebuke of Trump versus Trumpism. The Trump party will go on, with another face in Alabama.
My guess was that Moore will win tomorrow night by eight points despite the fact that he’s led by more in various polls of the Alabama runoff. If Trafalgar’s right, the actual margin will be double that. It’ll be a blowout and an embarrassing rebuke to Trump, who not only couldn’t get his guy over the finish line after a rally in Huntsville but couldn’t get him within 15 points of victory. I can’t understand all the political eggheads claiming this past week that the Strange endorsement was some kind of win/win for Trump when really it was a lose/lose. Either he’d end up helping an establishmentarian defeat a populist, which would annoy his fans, or the populist would defeat his preferred candidate, humiliating POTUS.
Strange’s appointment to fill Sen. Jeff Sessions’ seat came as Bentley faced an impeachment investigation by state lawmakers for the fallout of an alleged affair with a staffer. Strange had asked for a pause in the impeachment investigation so his office could do “related work.”
As Strange seeks election to a full Senate term, he has been dogged by criticisms for accepting the interim Senate appointment from a governor overshadowed by scandal.
Bentley’s handwritten notes from interviews with finalists for the Senate appointment show that he ranked finalists in several categories, including what he called the “trickle-down effect.” While he didn’t explain the term in his notes, which were turned over to the Alabama Department of Archives and History with other administration records, the phrases he jotted down suggest he was referring to whether a prospective appointment would open up a state office, which would then have to be filled.
Bentley gave Strange high rankings in every category, including the “trickle-down effect,” noting that he would get to appoint the next state attorney general.