MOBILE, Alabama – With just a day to go until GOP voters in Alabama go to the polls to select a nominee for December’s special election, the Yellowhammer State’s two southernmost counties Baldwin and Mobile are a pivotal part of Roy Moore’s path to victory.
In 1864, the Union’s victory in the Battle of Mobile Bay was a shot in the arm for President Abraham Lincoln politically. Union Rear Admiral David G. Farragut over the Confederacy in Mobile Bay boosted morale, which was one of the reasons Lincoln was able to secure reelection in 1864.
A similar political dynamic could be in play 153 years later.
On Tuesday, if former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has a big day in Southwest Alabama, it will be difficult for his opponent Sen. Luther Strange to run up the vote totals in his strongholds to overcome those vote tallies.
Last month in the primary, Moore won Mobile County, the second-most populous county in Alabama by 1,100 votes. Strange won Baldwin County, the state’s seventh-most populous county by 400 votes.
Unlike the primary, however, the absence of State Sen. Trip Pittman, the fourth-place finisher and local favorite, won’t be on the ballot in this election. Exactly a month ago, Pittman gave Moore his endorsement.
While Moore may not have won all of the Pittman voters over, he certainly stands to gain the lion’s share, which could be what gives him the win in Baldwin County.
Monday night, Moore will make his closing statement on the race at an event that will feature high-profile names including Phil Robertson, Nigel Farage and Steve Bannon. On Saturday, Moore paid a visit to the Chestang 15th Annual Gospel Sing in rural Washington County, just a stone’s throw from the Mobile County line.
Strange hasn’t had a big presence in Mobile. The former attorney general has spent much of his time in the remaining days in the Birmingham and Huntsville area. Strange looks to having a big showing in the Birmingham area to keep him competitive.
Despite having won Baldwin County, the Strange campaign doesn’t appear to be putting up much of a fight to win it again on Tuesday.
“Luther Strange gave up on Baldwin County a long time ago,” a local Republican official told Breitbart News for this story.
Strange has also shied away from Mobile in the waning days of the campaign.
On Thursday, Strange revealed President Donald Trump wanted to hold the rally that was in Huntsville on Friday in Mobile, but Strange had urged Trump to go to Huntsville instead.
“He wanted to go to Mobile,” Strange said to a gaggle of reporters after a debate in Montgomery on Thursday night. “I said, ‘You’ve been there twice, Mr. President. You need to go to north Alabama. People are going to think you may not like them there.’”
JMC Analytics pollster John Couvillon sees Mobile and Baldwin Counties as being an opportunity for Moore, given its makeup and how the vote went in the round for the Republican nod.
“I certainly agree it’s important,” Couvillon said. “For one thing, roughly a third of the vote went to Moore, about a third of the vote went to Strange, then, of course, you have some peel offs when Trip Pittman went in there, and then a few people voted for Mo. And also, another thing that makes the Mobile area so important is that you have urban and suburban elements to Mobile and Baldwin County, which really is the vast majority of southwest Alabama.”
“I see this as the case of chasing every last vote to get to 50 percent,” he added.
The winner of the Strange-Moore race will face former Clinton U.S. Attorney Doug Jones, the Democratic nominee, on December 12 and that winner will fill the U.S. Senate formerly held by Jeff Sessions.
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor