The 2017 U.S. Senate Special Election in Alabama, which was decided on 12 December 2017, was one of the most contentious and scandal-laden political campaigns in recent memory. The Republican candidate, Roy Moore, gained notoriety during the 2017 campaign when a number of women alleged to national media that as teenagers they were subject to sexual advances by Moore, who was then in his early 30s and serving as a local assistant district attorney. The process and results of this particular election provide the heretofore unexamined impact of political scandal on localism or friends-and-neighbors voting in political contests. Based on data from the 2017 special election in Alabama, econometric results presented here suggest that a candidate who is embroiled in political scandal suffers an erosion in the usual friends-and-neighbors effect on his or her local vote share. In this particular case, the scandal hanging over Moore eroded all of the friends-and-neighbors effect that would have been expected (e.g., about five percentage points) in his home county, as well as about 40% of the advantage Moore had at home over his opponent in terms of constituent political ideology.
friends-and-neighbors voting localism in elections reputation capital political scandal