Today's unpredictable special election for the U.S. Senate in Alabama highlights the two central dynamics of 2017 politics: surging Democratic energy and steadfast loyalty among the president's hardcore supporters.
What propels Democrat Doug Jones — in a state where his party hasn't won a Senate race in a quarter century — is renewed energy among Democratic voters who were irate about President Donald Trump long before allegations surfaced of child molestation by Jones' Republican opponent. Democratic enthusiasm fueled the 10-percentage-point lead that Fox News pollsters measured for Jones in its pre-election survey.
Yet, what keeps Republican Roy Moore a narrow favorite in the race is the staunch loyalty of core GOP conservatives — not only to the candidate but to the president, who has endorsed Moore. Though their ranks have shrunk as both men struggle with self-inflicted wounds, in a state as conservative as Alabama even a diminished and dispirited base could be enough to win.