What You Need to Keep in Mind in Advance of the Roy Moore Election Results
On Tuesday, voters in Alabama are casting their ballots in what has to be one of the most closely-watched Senate races in recent history. The ahead-of-schedule special election is due to a vacancy that arose from the resignation of Jeff Sessions, who now serves as U.S. attorney general. What should have been a relatively easy victory for the GOP—Alabama hasn’t voted for a Democratic president since 1976—is now “exceptionally difficult to predict,” per The New York Times.
The primary reason for the nail-bitingly-close contest is the multitude of allegations against the Republican candidate, Roy Moore. The former Alabama state judge has been accused of making unwanted sexual advances towards and, in some cases, assaulting teenage girls as young as 14 while he was in his thirties. Nine women have spoken out against Moore, and while the politician has vacillated between acknowledging some sort of relationship with a few of them and none at all, his latest story is that they are all liars. “Let me state once again: I do not know any of these women, did not date any of these women and have not engaged in any sexual misconduct with anyone,” he said at a recent campaign event.
Many see this election as a test of Americans’ willingness to believe victims of harassment and assault. While many a powerful man has been knocked off his perch recently as a result of sexual misconduct, this is the first instance in the #MeToo era in which U.S. voters are the ones to decide his fate. One potentially revealing statistic from my Fortune colleague Grace Donnelly’s analysis of a national Morning Consult poll is that fewer voters find Moore’s accusers credible than Trump’s (42% believe accusations against the Senate hopeful, while 53% believe those against the president).
It may be tempting to use tonight’s election results as a yardstick for how the U.S. as a country view mistreatment of women, but that’s simply not the case. After all, this is one election in one (very red) state—and one in which only about a quarter of voters are expected to go to the polls. And while powerful men, namely President Donald Trump, have endorsed Moore—“Go get ’em, Roy”—plenty of female Republicans have spoken up just as loudly. On Monday, Nebraska Republican National Committeewoman Joyce Simmons resigned due to the RNC’s financial support of Moore, and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, an Alabama native, urged voters to “reject bigotry, sexism and intolerance,” saying: “I encourage you to take a stand for our core principles and for what is right.”
A version of this essay first appeared in The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about powerful women.