Doug Jones Beats Roy Moore in Alabama Senate Race
The tumultuous Alabama Senate Race has concluded with a surprising result, Associated Press reported first. In Tuesday’s Special Election, Democrat Doug Jones beat Republican Roy Moore, whose campaign was marred by accusations of sexual assault and child molestation. The victory is historic for the Democratic Party, who haven’t had a Democratic Senate victory in Alabama for 25 years.
The election of Jones, a former U.S. attorney, has national implications. The GOP advantage in the Senate has narrowed to just one seat, which may threaten the Republican party’s ability to gain legislative victories, like passing the hard-fought Republican budget as well as health and tax proposals. With the President Trump having previously endorsed Moore, the loss also constitutes a major embarrassment for Trump’s administration.
Nonetheless, the White House offered their congratulations to Jones. “The write-in votes played a very big factor, but a win is a win,” Trump said in a tweet. In a subsequent post, Trump wrote that he had “originally endorsed Luther Strange,” the other Republican candidate who Trump initially lent support to, as he was aware that “Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election.” As election day approached, however, Trump became an ardent supporter of Moore, and tweeted on Tuesday encouraging his followers to vote for the embattled candidate.
Unlike the president, Moore refused to congratulate his opponent and to concede. The Republican candidate suggested that a recount might be in order during a campaign party.
Despite Senate uncertainty and the potential GOP embarrassment, many Republicans see the outcome as a positive result for the party’s longevity, believing that it will help them retain a Senate majority in 2018. Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) referred to the loss as “short term pain, long term gain,” adding that “Moore would have buried [the] GOP in 2018,” in a tweet.
Republican positivity in light of the result is unsurprising given that many Republicans refused to endorse Moore. Most notably, Alabama’s long-serving Senator, Richard Shelby, said that he didn’t vote for Roy Moore and that the Republican Party “can do better,” on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
With a prediction of a low turnout, Jones targeted his campaign towards African-American, liberal white, and moderate Republican voters who might be willing to vote for the Democratic candidate given the allegations against his opponent.
According to the Associated Press, Jones’ win is largely thanks to the unusually high turnout of voters in Alabama’s so-called “black belt,” and urban areas such as Montgomery, Birmingham, Mobile, Tuscaloosa and Huntsville, which have a high African-American population.
Jones won with a 49.9% majority and 675,151 votes to Moore’s 48.4% and 650,436 votes. The president was correct that write-ins constituted a sizeable 1.7% of the vote with a total of 22,811.
CNN exit polls show that 57% of women voted in favor of Jones, whereas 56% of men voted for Moore. As predicted, the younger generations voted in favor of the Democratic candidate, with 60% of 18-29 year olds voting for Jones and 61% of 30-44 year olds also voting for the Democrat. 45-64 year olds were nearly split with a small 1% advantage to Moore. Older generations, however, voted Republican with 59% of 65 and overs voting red.
Jones won a significant portion of the black vote; a sizeable 96% of black voters voted for Jones, while 68% of white voters voted for Moore. Additionally, Moore was only able to capture 79% of Moderate republican votes.
Not all Republicans see a silver lining to these results. Sen. Lindsay O’Graham (R-SC) said on Wednesday that no Republican “should feel safe about anything. Our party is in turmoil.”
Republicans might have good reason to be concerned. While the GOP might not be shattered by the defeat, the Democrats are certainly bolstered. Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, the chair of the gubernatorial campaign arm, said “we’re seeing a passion for voting [and] this phenomenon exists in every state. It will expand the universe of competitive races.”
Nonetheless, if the Democrats are to regain a House majority in 2018, they still need to flip a total of 24 seats — a difficult, if not impossible, task. The party has a targeted list of 90 districts, including 23 that Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
The Senate poses less of a challenge to the Democrats as only two seats are needed to form a majority. Governor Inslee said that, given Alabama’s election result, new opportunities for gaining these seats might be found in Kansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina, where democratic candidates are competitive.
Certain Democrats, however, are less optimistic than Inslee. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who also runs the Senate Democrats’ campaign efforts, remained restrained despite the unprecedented victory. “I would say we had a narrow path to the majority that just got a little bit wider,” he said. “But it’s still a very tough path.”
This restraint might be well placed given the exceptional circumstances of the Alabama Senate election. While some see the win as a seismic shift in the political landscape of the country, former Sen. Coleman (R-MN) argued this point, tweeting that “this was not a pro-Jones, anti Trump, anti GOP vote [tonight]. It was a “couldn’t stomach a vote for Roy Moore” night.”
Regardless, the Democratic Party is celebrating. As DNC Chairman Tom Perez said: “The people of Alabama sent a loud and clear message to Donald Trump and the Republican Party: You can’t call yourself the party of family values as long as you’re willing to accept vile men like Roy Moore as members.”