Anna Sheffer
December 13, 2017 2:07 pm
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Republican Roy Moore’s loss in the December 12th Senate election in Alabama came as a shock to many. Moore’s party is attempting to grapple with defeat, and national Republicans blame Steve Bannon for the loss.

Bannon, the former White House chief strategist known for his work at the alt-right media outlet Breitbart News, backed Moore since the primaries. Most other prominent Republicans favored Luther Strange until Moore won the nomination. Bannon poured his energy into campaigning for Moore. At a rally on December 11th, Bannon spoke directly to the audience, condemning Republicans who opposed Moore.

This isn’t the first time a Bannon-backed Republican candidate has lost, either. Bannon campaigned for the Republican candidate, in the Virginia gubernatorial race, who lost to his Democratic opponent in November. Add this to the fact that many mainstream Republicans dislike Bannon for his radical views and desire to overthrow the establishment, and when they saw a way to blame Moore’s loss on him, they pounced.

But while Bannon’s influence was likely a factor in Moore’s loss, there were other forces at work. Moore was accused of sexual misconduct; several women alleged that he pursued them romantically when they were teenagers. And at one September rally, Moore said that America was great during the time of slavery, drawing criticism from many.

On the other hand, Moore’s opponent, Doug Jones, was a renowned civil rights attorney who had indicted Ku Klux Klan members for bombing a Baptist church. Jones pledged to fight for equality as a senator, condemning the mistreatment of Muslims, Latinos, and LGBTQ people. As a result, 96 percent of black voters, who made up 30 percent of the electorate, voted for him on December 12th.

Bannon’s support may have hurt the Republicans’ chances in Alabama, but the bottom line is that Moore was a weak candidate. Alabama voters made their choice clear. Jones’ record of fighting for civil rights triumphed over Moore’s flaws. And Bannon had little to do with that.

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