5 Things to Know About Doug Jones' Victory Over Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate Race
On Tuesday, Democrat Doug Jones pulled off a stunning victory over Republican Roy Moore in Alabama. The race went down to the wire, but the Democrat prevailed.
Here are five things to know about why Jones won, why Moore lost, and what it means for the future of the U.S. Senate and both parties.
1. Character matters.
According to NBC News exit polls, 49 percent of Alabama voters thought the sexual assault accusations against Roy Moore were "definitely" or "probably" true. Republicans and Democrats split on partisan lines — a whopping 82 percent of Republicans said the allegations were "probably" or "definitely" false, while 89 percent of Democrats said they were "probably" or "definitely" true.
Exit polls suggested that Jones didn't win because Republicans switched sides — he won because Democrats voted while Republicans stayed home. Specifically, African-American turnout reached 30 percent, on par with the Obama surge in 2008 and 2012.
Jones underperformed his benchmark in Perry County, part of Alabama's "Black Belt," but turnout was relatively high — 76 percent of the 2016 numbers. Meanwhile, a heavily pro-Moore county like Houston had only 58 percent of 2016 turnout.
The Republicans who did turn up at the polls didn't think Moore was guilty of sexual assault against a teenage girl when he was in his 30s, but the ones who stayed home likely did.
Many Republicans may have taken comfort in the fact that at least one of Moore's accusers admitted to tampering with a key piece of evidence — a yearbook signature that she originally claimed came entirely from Moore. Even so, this seemingly proved insufficient to assuage doubts.
Moore's denials failed to pass muster, and that likely cost him big time. The Republican also dialed back his campaign appearances after the allegations, which sent the wrong message.
It did not help that many Republicans came forward suggesting that the sexual advances of which Moore was accused were not that serious. Most notoriously, Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler compared Moore's alleged sexual advances on teenagers to the relationship of Joseph and Mary.
The biggest weakness for Republicans going forward may be the accusations of sexual assault against President Donald Trump. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) have already jumped on the issue, and Moore's loss will make Democrats smell blood in the water.
2. Steve Bannon's populism won't work.
“This is a brutal reminder that candidate quality matters regardless of where you are running," Senate Leadership Fund President and CEO Steven Law said in a statement Tuesday night. "Not only did Steve Bannon cost us a critical Senate seat in one of the most Republican states in the country, but he also dragged the President of the United States into his fiasco.”