The win for Moore comes despite millions from the Senate Leadership Fund directed to Strange by McConnell, tons of negative ads, and the backing of President Donald Trump.
Alabamians saw Strange as the establishment, polished candidate while Moore was seen as a Trumpian man of the people.
Polls had Moore leading the race by as much as 18 points in the three months leading up to voting day with the RCP average at a 10-point lead just days before the vote.
Pundits positioned the race as a test of Trump’s ability to pull in the vote, but even Trump wasn’t sure he’d picked the right candidate to back when he told supporters at a rally for Strange that he “might have made a mistake” in backing the now former Senator.
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told “Fox and Friends” Wednesday morning that “Voters want to choose their own candidate, they don’t like Washington coming in.”
— Fox News (@FoxNews) September 27, 2017
Trump congratulated Roy Moore late Tuesday night once his victory was certain.
“Congratulations to Roy Moore on his Republican Primary win in Alabama,” he tweeted. “Luther Strange started way back & ran a good race. Roy, WIN in Dec!”
Mitch McConnell voiced his disappointment in the loss after having his PAC spend almost $10 million to support Strange.
“He ran a spirited campaign centered around a dissatisfaction with the progress made in Washington,” leader McConnell said. “I share that frustration.”
Moore now faces Democrat candidate Doug Jones in the Dec. 12 general election – a race Moore is expected to win handily.
The populist win is raising alarms among the establishment GOP.
“If you’re an incumbent, you have to assume the wind is against you,” said consultant Tom Ingram. “If you do run, you take nothing for granted and leave nothing on the table. You start out with one big strike against you: You’re an incumbent Republican senator.”
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) announced on Tuesday that he would retire in 2018 at the end of his current term. Many of Corker’s possible primary challengers had already begun planning for campaigns to unseat him.
The Senate incumbents up for election next year are John Barrasso (WY), Ted Cruz (TX), Deb Fischer (NB), Dean Heller (NV), Jeff Flake (AZ), Orrin Hatch (UT), and Roger Wicker (Miss.)
Jeff Flake is facing his own anti-establishment backlash after vocally opposing president Trump several times in 2017 and Moore backers looks set to help defeat him next.
On it. https://t.co/emH4yCGxTT
— Sebastian Gorka DrG (@SebGorka) September 27, 2017
Heller and Wicker are also facing serious primary challenges in the 2018 mid-term election.