The nominated candidate, Roy Moore, was a “movement” conservative, and his opponent a left-leaning liberal, and normally that spells a win for the Republican in Alabama, but this time it did not. Mr. Moore was dogged by accusations that 38 years ago as a rising young attorney in his early 30s, he asked several girls in the 16-18 year old range out on dates; and perhaps took some liberties (or tried to) with one who was perhaps as young as 14. The national party first was against Mr. Moore, who unseated the establishment candidate in the primary, and then was lukewarm toward him. It turned against him when the accusations began to grow in number and intensity, and the party slid back into supporting him near the end, but it was not enough. The Democrats could smell victory, and they poured heavy resources into the race, and helped by the circumstances of Moore’s primary victory (which split the party), and the distressing accusations made about him, and the heavy play those accusations received in the national and statewide press, Mr. Moore had an uphill fight in a race in which a Republican normally would coast to victory.
But after taking everything into account, a majority of the Alabama voters could not bring themselves to vote for Moore. Many voters didn’t vote for the liberal Jones, either, and there were appreciable write-in votes for other Republicans – which siphoned votes from Moore, but a great many voters, normally expected to vote for the Republican, stayed home. Their disgust over the nominated candidate outweighed their dislike of the political views of the Democrat candidate, but they couldn’t bring themselves to vote for either of them.
President Trump, although he had endorsed Mr. Moore’s primary opponent, went heavy for Moore, but even his appeal was not enough to sway the election.