Alabama Voters Agree on One Thing: Mitch McConnell Sucks

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It was interesting looking at the exit poll numbers on Tuesday night. While voters were split almost evenly between Doug Jones and Roy Moore, between approving of Trump and disapproving of Trump, and various other ancillary election issues, there was one issue all voters could agree on: Mitch McConnell sucks.

In some polls, nearly 90% of the Alabama electorate had an unfavorable view of the Senate Majority Leader, and those numbers weren’t much better when you narrowed the polling down to Republican voters. He has become one of the most despised figures in all of Washington, and he is very much to blame for what turned out to be a disastrous outcome in the special election.

McConnell has still not learned the lessons of 2016. He doesn’t understand – or he doesn’t want to understand – how deeply unpopular the “establishment” is among both Democrats and Republicans (but especially Republicans). He hasn’t yet caught on to the fact that it was anti-establishment anger that drove Donald Trump to the White House last year – not some blossoming resurgence of Republican Party popularity. Not some grand conservative awakening. No. It might be nice to believe that, but it’s not the case. It was people on the right and people in the middle fed up to HERE with politics as usual. Trump seemed as good an answer as any to those people.

So what does McConnell do? He interjects himself and his little Senate fundraising arm in a ham-handed way in the Alabama Republican runoff election. Desperate to prevent House Freedom Caucus star Mo Brooks from taking a seat in the Senate, McConnell ordered that millions be spent to thwart his candidacy. You think McConnell was wary of dealing with Roy Moore? Moore wouldn’t have given him half the headaches as Brooks, who is as tried and true a conservative as you’ll find in the Capitol Building. Instead of “letting the people of Alabama decide,” as McConnell put it late in the general election, he made a clumsy grab for the steering wheel so that his obedient lapdog, Luther Strange, could be guaranteed the seat to which he’d been appointed.

“McConnell’s meddling wasn’t just bad for Luther Strange, it was bad for Mitch McConnell,” writes Jordan Gehrke at Fox News. “By jumping into the race in Alabama, McConnell had made himself the Nancy Pelosi of the Alabama primary and gave anti-establishment candidates a blueprint for how to defeat him in 2018.

“Mitch McConnell did not hurt Roy Moore. He nominated Moore,” he continues. “Once Mo Brooks endorsed Moore, the runoff went from what should have been a conversation about Roy Moore vs. Luther Strange to a simple, binary choice for voters: ‘Do you really want to reward McConnell with his millions of K Street cash, or do you want to send him a message to stop messing around in our state?’”

Enter nominee Roy Moore and the debacle that ensued.

Of course, even then McConnell was not done throwing away a solidly-red Republican seat in the Senate. He went on to position himself as an enemy of Moore and a de facto spokesman for the Democratic Party. Under normal circumstances, this might have actually given Moore a boost in the general election, but the sexual assault allegations were sufficient to draw Democrat voters out in force.

The lessons of this election are many, but they certainly do not come down to what we’re hearing a lot of pundits saying, which is that Steve Bannon should stay out of politics. No, quite the contrary: Mitch McConnell should stay out of politics if he still thinks we’re living in 1998, where the Republican establishment can rig elections with impunity.