Election 2020

Caucus Chairman: Dems' 'Respect' of African-American Voters 'Has to be a Two-Way Street'

Supporters of Alabama Democrat Doug Jones celebrate his victory over Judge Roy Moore at the Sheraton in Birmingham, Ala., on Dec. 12, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the House Democratic Caucus today said his party needs to “respect and understand that commitment” of African-American voters who have been credited with pushing Doug Jones over the top in Tuesday’s Alabama Senate special election.

According to exit polling, voter turnout was 29 percent black with 93 percent of African-American men voting for Jones and 98 percent of African-American women picking the Dem. White voters, who comprised 66 percent of Tuesday’s voters, went 72 percent for Roy Moore among men and 63 percent for Moore among women.

The black turnout was comparable with President Obama’s election years in 2008 and 2012. Jones also won 21 percent of moderate or liberal Republicans, an improvement of 20 percent over Obama’s 1 percent in 2012.

In other exit polling, mothers with children under 18 went for Jones by 66 percent while 55 percent of women without children voted for the Dem. Forty-eight percent of women with children said the allegations against Moore of sexual abuse or pursuing relationships with minors were an important factor in how they voted.

At a media availability following a closed caucus meeting on Capitol Hill, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) called Jones’ victory in the upper chamber “heartening” and noted “it was important to see the mobilization that did take place within the state, and particularly, among the African-American population, and other ethnic minorities, including Latinos, within Alabama itself.” Latinos made up 3 percent of voters.

Crowley called the African-American vote “something that is remarkable, and something that we as Democrats not only need to take note of, but respect and understand that commitment.” The caucus chairman added “there has to be a two-way street of the African-American community, as well.”

“Many of my colleagues have been talking about this, and I think this election itself, once again, demonstrates that, you know, the support of the African-American community was critical, crucial. It was — without it, Doug Jones is not a member-elect of the U.S. Senate,” Crowley continued. “And it took every vote to get there, so we thank all those people of good will, on behalf of Democrats, Republicans, independents who supported Doug Jones. It’s a great day for Alabama, a great day for America.”

The congressman said the special election “does demonstrate that there is support for Democrats in the South and in other parts of the country where we haven’t been as competitive.”

“And we need to learn from this,” Crowley added. “Exactly what we take from this is yet to be determined, but I think on its face, certainly recognition of the support of almost unanimity within the African-American community was critical and crucial for this victory.”

Vice chairwoman of the House Dem Caucus, Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), added that Alabama shows “when we engage, organize and turn out every community, Democrats win.”