Inside the Statehouse: No surprise in Alabama – it’s a red state
by Steve Flowers
In surveying the results from the election returns from two weeks ago, you realize that the country is deeply divided. It is as though we live in two Americas.

Voters nationwide are definitely in two different camps, especially on social issues. Democrats are fervently in favor of same-sex marriage, legalized abortion and social welfare programs. The Republicans are totally opposite on these issues just as adamantly, if not more so.

The polling prior to the election was right on the money. The final results from the seven pivotal battleground states mirrored the tracking polls. It was thought and espoused by national pundits for over a year that liberal, young and minority voters were not as motivated or energized as older white conservative voters. This proved to be a misnomer. Both groups turned out in mass.

This record breaking turnout also occurred in Alabama. I generally vote at about 10 a.m. at my polling place in Troy. On a good turnout day about 200 people have voted. On November 6th a whopping 500 folks had voted. This amazing turnout occurred to the advantage of the President’s reelection. The Obama team did a better job getting their people to the polls. This was the difference in the election.

Nationwide the results portend continued gridlock in Washington. Despite all of the money spent and close to two years of campaigning there was no change. The status quo prevails. You have the same President, the same Democratic Senate and the same rock solid, conservative, Republican House of Representatives.

In Alabama, a cursory look at the electorate reveals a much more conservative voter than you see nationwide, even among young voters. The Associated Press did an excellent job ascertaining voting tendencies of Alabamians through their exit polling. They determined that Obama and Romney ran almost even among young voters ages 18 to 29. Romney’s support grew as voters got older. Romney received 7 out of 10 votes from retirement age voters. More than 8 out of 10 white voters supported Romney, while more than 9 out of 10 African American voters backed Obama. In Alabama, Romney got the majority of both male and female voters. Obama held a slight edge with voters whose family income was less than $50,000 annually. Romney was chosen 7 out of 10 times by voters with higher incomes.

In Alabama, Romney led in all suburbs and rural white areas, which is was pretty well expected. The statewide final tally gave Romney 61 percent in the Heart of Dixie to Obama’s 38 percent. However, Romney underperformed compared to the typical GOP nominee of the past few decades. This probably reflects a larger than predicted minority turnout in the state.

Mitt Romney carried Alabama because of his support among voters who are white, older, wealthier and deeply religious. Over half of Alabama voters identified themselves as born again or evangelical Christians and they favored Romney by a 9 to 1 margin. No surprise that Romney was the overwhelming favorite among voters who said they attend religious services at least once a week.

Alabama has now voted for the GOP nominee for President in the last nine presidential contests going back 36 years to 1976.

We are now a totally Republican state from top to bottom. In addition to voting GOP for president for close to five decades, we are 100 percent Republican in our executive and judicial branches of government. All seven of our constitutional officeholders, including governor and lieutenant governor, are Republicans.

All nine of our Supreme Court justices are Republicans, as well as all ten appellate court seats.

Our congressional delegation has six Republicans and one Democrat. Both our U.S. Senators are Republican. Our state legislature, both House and Senate, are overwhelmingly Republican.

Over the past two years I have had the privilege to be the keynote speaker at both Boys State and Girls State. My advice to the future political leaders of our state was that if you are going to run for statewide office in Alabama, you better run as a Republican even if you are a Democrat. The opposite was true when I attended Boys State in 1968. You had to run as a Democrat even if you were a Republican.

Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His column appears weekly in more than 70 Alabama newspapers. Steve served 16 years in the state legislature. He may be reached at www.steveflowers.us.
© 2012