Jun 13, 2018 10:30 AM - 1 month, 3 days, 19 hours, 2 minutes, 51 seconds ago
“[S]anford is the second Republican Trump critic in two weeks to run into primary trouble; last week in Alabama, Rep. Martha Roby fell below 50 percent of the vote and was pulled into a runoff in her first primary since declaring she would not vote for Trump in 2016, following the publication of his vulgar comments in the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape. Roby has since tried to mend fences, but she still suffered a sharp drop in Republican primary support this year,” Politico’s Elena Schneider wrote in her wrap-up of Sanford’s loss.
Likewise, before the first vote was even cast on Tuesday, The New York Times offered a similar assessment.
Both the Times and Politico are wrong, and they are wrong for multiple reasons.
Roby beat already the three of the Trumpiest pro-Trump candidates last week in the Republican primary single-handedly. Roby received 36,509 votes, roughly 39 percent of the vote. The three candidates running on the so-called pro-Trump platform, State Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise), Roy Moore ally Rich Hobson and Army veteran Tommy Amason, received a combined vote total 30,826, which is 32.9 percent of the vote.
The other 28.1 percent went to Bright, the former Democrat, with 26,297 votes.
If Roby were as vulnerable as we were to believe, how come the combined forces of three pro-Trump candidates still came up short?
Furthermore, there’s more to understanding Alabama’s second congressional district than operating on the assumption it’s just all pro-Trump Republicans. As is the case with the last century of Alabama politics, there is a degree of tribalism and distinct geographic loyalties within AL-2.
In other words, the typical Montgomery media market-River Region Republican voter isn’t a carbon-copy of the typical Dothan media market-Wiregrass Republican voter.
Indeed, they are similar. But for a campaign to succeed in this congressional district, it requires having a strategy that appreciates the distinctions.
There are different turnout patterns. In recent elections, the Wiregrass has struggled with turnout. Additionally, the Wiregrass tends to be a little more conservative than the Montgomery parts of AL-2.
Montgomery has the numbers. It’s no coincidence that two Montgomery candidates, Roby and Bright, are in the runoff and the two Wiregrass candidates, Moore and Hobson are out.
For the sake of argument, let’s say the populated Montgomery parts of Alabama’s second congressional district (Autauga, Elmore, the gerrymandered portion of Montgomery) are a jump-ball that can go either Bright and Roby.
Are we to believe Bobby Bright can run as the Donald Trump-esque candidate with a well-funded Roby campaign carpet-bombing the airwaves with reminders Bright voted for Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker?
Outside of Montgomery, Bright will do well in Dale County, the site of his birthplace. But beyond that specific geographic loyalty, Bright has a much more difficult path in convincing Wiregrass voters he is the most pro-Trump, or perhaps more ...
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