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What a difference a year makes


Just over a year ago, Republican Donald Trump won the vote in the state of Alabama. To no one’s surprise, it was nowhere near close: He won with 62.1% of the total, leading Democrat Hillary Clinton by about 600,000 votes.

A little more than a year after that, today to be exact, the state held a Senate election, and this time the Republican, Roy Moore, lost to Democrat Doug Jones. The margin was tiny, and it was a close election. But the fact that it was even close is astounding. That he won is more than that.

Before the November elections in Virginia (and elsewhere) it would have been possible (not convincing) to argue that the Democratic wins for numerous lower-level offices were simply a normal readjustment after a couple of strongly Republican national elections. Or that they didn’t necessarily mean much on a national level, since congressional offices didn’t change.

Then in Virginia came wins by Democrats so sweeping they put three or four Republican congressional seats in the state instantly at high risk for next year. (At least one of them probably is a lost cause for Republicans already.)

And now we have the results for a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama, one of the most Republican states in the country. Only five states gave Trump higher percentages last year, and even there not much much. Alabama voted harder for Trump than Idaho.

And now it has elected a left-of-center, up front and no apologies about it, Democratic senator.

The immediate analysis in national quarters was that Republican control of the Senate post-2018 is abruptly a lot shakier than it was just a short time ago. (Democrats will now need two seats to flip to gain the majority, and Nevada, the Flake seat in Arizona and the Corker seat in Tennessee are all strong prospects.) And that’s true.

But the implications of this are much bigger. You may have noticed Democratic candidates for office emerging, in large crowds. After seeing how Doug Jones went from a long-shot to a newly-minted senator, just watch what happens next.

This isn’t 2016 any more. The United States is changing ground, fast.

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