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How Doug Jones beat Roy Moore in deep-red Alabama

Doug Jones, a Democrat and former federal prosecutor, beat Republican Roy Moore in Alabama’s special Senate election on Tuesday night. Alabama is a solidly red state whose last elected Democrat in the Senate, Richard Shelby, switched parties in the ’90s. “What went right for Jones?” asked Steve Kornacki on MSNBC Tuesday night. “Well, first of all, the answer is basically everything went right. If you’re a Democrat and you’re winning by 20,000 votes, a tiny margin, but you need everything to break your way.”

Specifically, according to exit polls, Jones won 96 percent of black voters, and turnout was high in Alabama’s “black belt.” He also beat Moore among younger voters (62 percent to 36 percent), and in the counties with the two biggest universities, Auburn and University of Alabama, both of which President Trump won last year. Also, turnout was lower in strongly Republican counties, Kornacki said. “You didn’t have Republicans in these counties going out and switching parties and voting Democrat, you just didn’t have them coming out at all. They weren’t turning out, they weren’t energized, and again, in these Democratic areas, you saw the opposite.”

There were 22,780 write-in votes, presumably mostly from Republicans who couldn’t vote for Moore, and 91 percent of voters said the candidate’s personal morality was important to their vote, versus 88 percent who said that about which party controls Congress. Jones leads by 1.5 percentage points in the unofficial tally, and Moore has not yet conceded.