(Quick note: If you are looking for the post on the gerrymandering case, you should scroll down while on the main page of this site, and you’ll find it.)
When you’re a candidate in an election that’s looking really close, it stands to reason that you should try to do everything right. That includes knowing how to convince voters in your potential support base that you care about them personally and that you are someone they can relate to. Based on an NPR report, it sounds as if Doug Jones may not be doing a very good job of that in his campaign against Roy Moore for the Alabama Senate seat. (As I write this post, it is Tuesday, December 12. I do not yet know what the outcome of the election will be, but I told the class I met with last night that I think Roy Moore will probably win it.)
It needs to be remembered that the Republican Party is the party that can count on its voters to brave all wind and weather to vote, while the Democratic Party has to depend much more on voters who need some prodding and persuading to think that their vote will make any difference. It also needs to be remembered that, in the South–especially the Deep South–the party line closely resembles the color line, with most whites voting Republican and most African Americans and Latinos voting Democratic if they feel moved to vote at all. It therefore stands to reason that, if you are Doug Jones, (1) you will want there to be a massive get-out-the-vote campaign among non-whites (which I believe the party is doing), and (2) you cannot afford to have non-whites feeling snubbed by you.
With that in mind, this morning on NPR, Rachel Martin visited with an African American man named Eugene Jones who has run a barber shop in Birmingham for 45 years. Now, Eugene Jones made it clear that he is voting for Doug Jones. But he also made it clear why, in his opinion, some others may not feel any such urge even if they don’t want Roy Moore representing them in the Senate. Why? He says that some weeks ago Doug Jones came into his barber shop, but he seemed afraid and in a hurry to keep moving. Now, “afraid” may have been a misperception, but it does seem clear that Doug Jones did not come across as having his heart in conversing with prospective supporters and listening to them say what was on their minds. There is even the impression that Doug Jones feels he has already earned the black vote by prosecuting those Klansmen who were involved in the 1963 Birmingham church bombing that killed four young girls.
It sounds to me, at least judging from that one interview with one Birmingham barber, that Doug Jones may be making the same mistake with black voters in Alabama that Hillary Clinton made last year with working-class white voters in the swing states: taking their votes for granted and not giving full value to connecting with them.
Doug Jones is also making a big deal in his campaign about the bad moral character of his opponent. Remember how well that worked for Hillary Clinton last year?