The SEC Primary. Super Tuesday. Call it what you will, but today’s the day Alabamians vote for everything from local judicial races to presidential nominees. Dr. Angela Lewis, director of UAB’s political science program, tells WBHM’s Rachel Osier Lindley what’s at stake in Alabama.
Rubio Creeping Up on Trump
“Based on analysis from polls that I’ve reviewed over the weekend, it looks like Donald Trump is a sure in,” says Lewis. “However, if I remember what happened in 2008, we thought Hillary Clinton was a sure in for the Democratic nomination, and she wasn’t. Things can happen on Super Tuesday that we don’t expect.”
Lewis says she’s seen more Rubio ads in the state in recent weeks, and notes Rubio’s strong attacks on Trump, especially in the last Republican debate. “Based on that information and the fact that Rubio is from Florida, a Southern state … I’m not exactly sure if this double-digit lead that Trump has nationally will carry in Alabama.”
Hillary Will Likely Take Alabama
“There is a generational gap in the Democratic party right now,” explains Lewis. “The facts are that people under 25 are less likely to turn out to vote. If you couple that with the fact that most people under the age of 30 are [for] Bernie Sanders … things don’t look very good for Bernie Sanders. He has to do something to generate more interest, more excitement, and I’m not sure that he’s done that in Alabama,” says Lewis.
U.S. Senator Richard Shelby Will Probably Beat Jonathan McConnell
“Shelby is an incumbent and it is very difficult to beat any incumbent, especially one with a war chest like Richard Shelby,” says Lewis. Since January 1st, Shelby has spent more than $5 million on his campaign, much of that going toward ads. That’s double what he spent on his last bid in 2010 and more than any other Senate candidate this year, according to The Cook Political Report.
“However, Senator Shelby has made probably a few missteps,” says Lewis. “The first misstep is obviously the campaign ads. Most of them talk about how he has spent his last bit of time in the Senate fighting Obama every day. Well, there is a dilemma here. If Obama’s not there anymore…what will you do now? He doesn’t answer that question in any of his ads. And his competitors have picked that up.”
Judicial Races in Jefferson County Could be Transformative
Alabama has partisan judicial elections. In Jefferson County, judicial retirements have cleared the way for a new generation of judges. “It’s very important that people pay attention to these races,” says Lewis. “Nine times out of ten, you encounter a judge before you encounter the president. So it’s really important that people do research on these judicial candidates before they cast their votes.”
She says that’s especially true today, where Jefferson County has 50 judicial candidates running in the primaries and 11 contested judicial races. This primary’s candidate pool also skews more female, more racially diverse and younger than the county’s current judges.
Sunday Sales Vote in Shelby County Might Stir Controversy
On the ballot in Shelby County, residents vote on whether or not to allow alcohol to be sold on Sundays. “We’re in the Bible Belt of Alabama. Sunday alcohol sales in a state is as moralistic as Alabama could be problematic,” says Lewis. If approved, the measure would allow alcohol to be sold after noon on Sundays. Supporters say it’ll boost the county’s economy and increase tax revenue.
But Lewis says it also may boost something else: voter turnout. “People like to partake. If people are truly concerned about whether or not they can buy alcohol on Sundays, I’m sure they would be more inclined to go to the polls and vote,” says Lewis.