VESTAVIA HILLS, Ala. — Sallie Gunter, 61, a freelance court reporter, was having breakfast with her friend Lisa Hicks, 44, a legal assistant, at Panera Bread when the subject of Roy S. Moore came up. It felt like revisiting a recurring bad dream.
“How am I processing it?” Ms. Gunter said. “I do a lot of work with gender discrimination and sexual discrimination so I need to carefully word this. I just would probably say where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire.”
Both women considered themselves independents who have voted for both Democrats and Republicans, although Ms. Hicks said she leaned Republican. And Ms. Gunter said she had gone to high school with Mr. Moore’s Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, and would be voting for him.
But like many in urban and suburban Alabama, the two women viewed the allegations reported by The Washington Post that Mr. Moore had made sexual overtures to teenagers decades ago not so much as a discrete scandal. Rather, it felt to them like the latest episode in a tawdry political sideshow with seemingly endless chapters.
“We’ve spent millions in Alabama on Roy Moore’s antics,” Ms. Gunter said. “Millions that could have been spent on our kids and schools. I’m just fed up. He needs to find something to do for people who adore him.’’
Alabama is not Virginia, and the political leanings of suburban women do not have the same political weight here as they did Tuesday in Virginia. Census statistics show that Alabama’s voting age population is, on balance, whiter, poorer and less educated than the nation’s. Like many other Republican candidates in statewide elections in the South, Mr. Moore draws much of his political strength from rural areas, which still have enormous clout. Still, 47 percent of the state’s active registered voters are concentrated in its seven most populous counties.
And in this upper-middle-class suburb of Birmingham, a place of establishment Republicans, moderate Democrats and true swing voters, women interviewed about Mr. Moore, for the most part, said the allegations came less as a shocking bolt from the blue than as just one more reason not to like a man they never much cared for in the first place.
“He’s just embarrassing,” Ms. Gunter said.
“He’s embarrassing,” Ms. Hicks repeated.
Still, the race holds hard choices for many. Rhonda Beacham, 64, a retired kindergarten teacher, described herself as a firm Christian who believes there is a place for the Ten Commandments in the judicial sphere. Yet she voted for Luther Strange, Mr. Moore’s opponent in the Republican primary. She considered Mr. Moore — the man who famously refused to take down a statue of the commandments at the State Supreme Court building — a “showman” and a “Barnum & Bailey of the 21st century.”
“He knows he can get votes in Alabama if he shows himself to be some Christian religious person,” she said.
She was skeptical about the report in The Post. “Why haven’t we heard about all this before?” she said. “Because this clown’s been around a long time.”
Ms. Beacham is anti-abortion, and would prefer to see the Republicans continue to maintain control of the Senate. She is no fan of the Affordable Care Act, which she blames for an increase in her monthly health insurance payment.
She did not feel as if she had much of a choice in the coming election. She said it reminded her of the presidential contest, when she wrote in Condoleezza Rice. “I wanted a woman,” she said. “But I didn’t want Hillary.”
She held out the possibility of voting for Mr. Jones, but only because he wasn’t Roy Moore. But Mr. Moore, she said, would probably win, “because of the way he exploits Christianity” and, she added half-joking, that the allegations were coming from a “Yankee paper.”
“I mean, who’s going to believe that?” she said, chortling.
Also uncertain was Susie Frazier, 56, who was finishing a meal at a fast-food restaurant with her husband, Ed, on Friday morning. They had voted for Mr. Moore in the Republican primary, they said, but not because they had any great love for him: Mr. Frazier said they had largely voted against Mr. Strange because they had received so many of his annoying robocalls.
Ms. Frazier said that she had liked Mr. Moore well enough. She called herself a conservative, but not an extremist. She and her husband had both voted for President Trump, though Mr. Frazier said they were disappointed thus far. It seemed, he said, that Mr. Trump’s swamp-draining skills were not as potent as he had promised.
Ms. Frazier seemed unsure what to think about the allegations, and was not sure whom she would vote for in December. “I’m just trying to see what happens with all of this,” she said, “and if there’s someone better.”
Gwen Williams, 63, the head of business development for a technology company, was having breakfast with two female friends Friday morning who declined to be identified. The friends did not want to talk about Mr. Moore — one of them said she had many family members who were passionate supporters of Mr. Moore, and speaking out against him would cause too much grief.
“I’m not going to talk to you,” the woman said. “My relatives would go nuts.”
Ms. Williams described herself as a conservative Christian and a Bush Republican who voted for Mr. Trump with no great zeal, but rather, she said, “because ‘none of the above’ was not on the ballot.”
She summed up her response to the allegations with the words “nausea” and “disgust,” particularly the allegations that he had engaged in sexual touching with a 14-year-old when he was in his 30s.
“Even in Alabama that’s illegal,” Ms. Williams said. “It’s called statutory rape.”
Then again, Ms. Williams, who lives in rural Chilton County south of Birmingham, had never been a Roy Moore fan. She said she would “absolutely” be voting for Mr. Jones, but she was not so sure about her rural neighbors. “I’ve lived here all my life, but I don’t have a lot of confidence in my fellow voters making that shift,” she said. And at this point, she had no idea whether Mr. Moore could pull out a win. “It depends where the story goes,” she said. “This is the Bible Belt, and a 14-year-old is a 14-year-old is a 14-year-old.”
Not everyone was overly concerned. Susan Remick, 48, a principal at an elementary school, said: “This all happened many years ago, correct? I honestly think we’re paying too much attention to it.” Ms. Remick, a Republican, said there were many more pressing problems. And the fact that the allegations were so old bothered her. “I’m a little disappointed in society right now,” she said. “It ultimately hurts somebody’s reputation. If it were true at the time, it should have been addressed at the time.”
Still, whatever their views of the allegations, many seemed to think that Mr. Moore had an excellent chance of becoming Alabama’s next senator.
Susie Barganier, 55, a worker at Redbox, the movie rental company, was waiting for her color treatment at a busy hair salon. “I’m not sure what to make of it,” she said of the allegations. It seemed, she said, that so many women were coming out with so many allegations these days. “But the fact that she was 14 and he was 32, I have a problem with. But I don’t like Roy Moore anyway.”
She also thought the allegations would not hurt Mr. Moore’s chances in December. “Probably not,” she said. “Not in Alabama.”