GAME OVER: Doug Jones has won the Alabama special election defeating Republican Roy Moore. For the first time in nearly a quarter century, a Democrat would be representing Alabama in the U.S. Senate.
BREAKING: Democrat Doug Jones won election to the U.S. Senate from Alabama in a sharp blow to President Trump that narrows the GOP’s majority in the Senate to two. He beat Roy Moore, a former chief justice of the state Supreme Court who had been accused of sexual misconduct.— The Associated Press (@AP) December 13, 2017
UPDATE: Matt Drudge says if Luther Strange had won the primary, he would’ve won in a landslide. Guy will have more on this tomorrow, but Jones owes a lot to black voters who turned out big for him tonight.
Luther Strange would have won in a landslide... Just too much crazy in nerve racking times. There IS a limit! pic.twitter.com/vketz7G1OR— MATT DRUDGE (@DRUDGE) December 13, 2017
It turns out there are still limits to partisanship. #ALSEN— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) December 13, 2017
It’s over. The Alabama special election is over. The polls have closed. The only thing that Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones can do now is wait. Moore has been dealing with multiple accusations of sexual molestation and assault from multiple women. These events occurred when Moore’s accusers were teenagers. It’s been an issue that has plagued the Moore campaign. As the ballots are being counted, turnout in some areas of the state is higher than usual. Yet, CNN’s panel of pundits noted that high black turnout, which is what Democrats are hoping for, might not be enough to win. When Obama ran for re-election in 2012, Alabama black voter turnout reached 28 percent; he still lost the state by over ten points. Former Democratic Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu had a similar fate: a strong showing with black voters in 2014, but got wiped out by the white electorate. David Wasserman had a lengthy post on FiveThirtyEight’s live blog listing what Jones needs to do to win.
It’s easy to get lost in the surreal stories of Alabama’s Senate race. But at the end of the day, simple math will dictate whether Jones can become the first Democrat to win statewide office since 2008 (when Lucy Baxley was elected president of the state’s public service commission).
I’ve created a follow-at-home model estimating the vote shares Jones and Moore need to exceed in each of Alabama’s 67 counties to win tonight. To break it down, here are the four stars that need to align for Jones to prevail:
Jones needs ridiculous margins in Jefferson and Montgomery counties, home to Birmingham and Montgomery. They were the two largest Alabama counties carried by Hillary Clinton, and I estimate that Jones needs to beat Moore there by 29 points and 47 points respectively.
Jones needs a robust GOP crossover vote (and a substantial write-in vote) from whites with a college degree, who make up roughly a quarter of the state’s electorate. Huntsville (Madison County) and the Birmingham suburbs (Shelby County) are the main places to look, as well as Tuscaloosa County (University of Alabama) and Lee County (Auburn).
Jones can’t afford turnout in the “Black Belt” to drop off much from the 2016 presidential election. At first, for an off-year special election, that would sound next to impossible. But keep in mind that 2016 turnout in places like Tuskegee (Macon County) and Selma (Dallas County) was considerably down from when Obama was on the ballot. So, with Democrats engaged in a black get-out-the-vote operation like never before, it’s not such a far-fetched scenario.
Jones needs a comparatively lower, more typical midterm turnout from whites without a college degree, who make up Moore’s and Trump’s bases. If Moore is failing to hit his target numbers in places where these voters are numerous, such as Cullman, DeKalb and Houston counties, he may be in trouble.
Currently on track for 25% turnout in some areas higher. Madison and Baldwin County reporting closer to 35%. Baldwin cites record number of Dems for special election. #alpolitics— Alabama Reporter (@ALReporter) December 12, 2017
To win #ALSEN (@CookPolitical PVI R+14), Jones needs:— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) December 12, 2017
1) Ridiculous Dem margins in Birmingham/Montgomery
2) Strong crossover from college whites in Huntsville/Shelby
3) Not much drop-off from '16 turnout in Black Belt
4) Weak/typical off year turnout among non-college whites
Hillary Clinton got 729,547 votes in Alabama. Doug Jones may actually need more votes to win tonight.— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) December 12, 2017
For Moore, it’s having a strong showing in rural Alabama, while making sure not too many moderate GOP voters in the suburbs flip for Jones (via NBC News):
More broadly, Moore's best counties are often in the state's most rural, white and least populous areas. In Blount and Cullman counties, which lie between Birmingham and Huntsville, Moore won more than three-quarters of the vote in 2012.
Moore probably won't win as many counties as Trump did — 54 — but most of the state map should be Republican red by the end of the night. The question is whether Moore can turn out his rural supporters and hold onto enough suburban moderates to take full advantage of the state's heavy GOP tilt.
Adding to the zest of this race—and I’m not giving a compliment here—Roy Moore’s spokesperson said that the Republican candidate would “probably” support making homosexuality illegal.
Roy Moore's campaign spokesman on Moore's 2005 comments saying homosexuality should be illegal: "Homosexuality is a sin in the biblical sense. That is where Roy Moore is in the state of Alabama" https://t.co/avSTRTRrT3— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) December 12, 2017
Oh, and Moore’s wife, Kayla, said that they’re not anti-Semitic because their “attorney is a Jew” at a rally in Midland City last night (via The Hill):
Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore’s wife, Kayla Moore, accused the media of portraying the couple as “anti-Semitic" during their final rally before Tuesday's special election.
“Fake news would tell you that we don’t care for Jews,” Kayla Moore said Monday at the Midland City, Ala., event.
“I tell you all this because I’ve seen it all, so I just want to set the record straight while they’re here,” she said, while waving at members of the media to cheers and applause from the crowd.
“One of our attorneys is a Jew,” she continued.
It’s Moore’s race to lose, given the electorate of the state—but if Doug Jones took a more pro-life position on abortion and made clear that he stood for gun rights; he could probably have increased his chances of wining this race immensely.
Kayla Moore, wife of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, accuses media of painting couple as anti-Semitic. pic.twitter.com/Vcczj6pNPv— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 12, 2017
We’ll update you more as the race becomes clearer.
UPDATE: Still VERY EARLY, but it seems as if Doug Jones is having a strong showing in rural Alabama. For Moore, he’s up 17 points over Moore in Limestone County, but he needs to be at 20-22 percent, according to David Wasserman of the Cook Political Report.
So far, Doug Jones is holding his own in rural Alabama. Still extremely early. #ALSEN— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) December 13, 2017
Half of Limestone reporting, Moore up 18% there (likely needs +22%). So far, Jones hitting slightly more benchmarks than Moore. #ALSEN— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) December 13, 2017
So far, you'd rather be Doug Jones than Roy Moore. #ALSEN— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) December 13, 2017
Very early, positive news for Jones: he received 31% of the vote in one Cullman County precinct. This is important because Hillary Clinton failed to break 15% of the vote in *any* Cullman precinct in 2016, save for one black majority precinct that's deep blue.— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) December 13, 2017
UPDATE: Never mind that last update; Roy Moore is doing just fine in Limestone County.
Just like that, Limestone Co. ticks up to a 22% Moore lead, right on pace for what he needs there. #ALSEN— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) December 13, 2017
Now with 77% of Limestone reporting, Moore ahead by 25 points there https://t.co/dKiOEeBCeM— John McCormack (@McCormackJohn) December 13, 2017
The last few minutes' results have been pretty good for Moore. Now back to a dead heat. #ALSEN— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) December 13, 2017
UPDATE: Expect a back and forth between Moore and Jones throughout the night, folks. Here’s The New York Times’ Nate Cohn—one of their data crunchers—with more:
1) This model has less information than the other Upshot 'dial' forecasts. Unlike VA/GA-6, the live model is running on counties, not precincts. Unlike '16, we can't borrow data from the rest of the country to help in areas with limited data.— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 13, 2017
2) That means more uncertainty and even volatility. Unlike VA/GA6/16, I would *expect* to see the favorite go back and forth throughout the evening in a close race.— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 13, 2017
3) I would not assume that higher turnout automatically means a better turnout for Democrats. If Democrats have an enthusiasm advantage, that cuts against their traditional demographic turnout disadvantage. Higher turnout could draw both marginal GOP *and* young/nonwhite.— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 13, 2017
4) There are a lot of different 'paths' to victory, given our limited knowledge of the electorate and close races in Alabama. One side could post seemingly disappointing results early, only to make-up for it by beating expectations elsewhere later— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 13, 2017
5) Alabama counties are very diverse. They often contain a mix of overwhelmingly Democratic/black and Republican/white precincts. You really have to wait for a county to wrap up until you know what happened— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 13, 2017
And for this reason, this is the most obnoxious way that results can report.— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 13, 2017
I'd much rather than 5 completed counties than 5 precincts in every county.
UPDATE: Cohn says this could be a long night (Correction: Not really):
Limestone County is our vote leader--now with more than half of precincts counted. Jones is running slightly ahead of our estimate for a tied race there. We'll see whether that lasts as counties wrap up.— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 13, 2017
Limestone now at 88% counted and now it's Moore who is running ahead of our estimate--enough to give him the lead statewide and push our model back towards a tie (much of the rest of the state has been a Jones overperformance in fragmentary returns).— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 13, 2017
A similar story in Houston, with 64% reporting. So, so far, the two counties with the most reporting have been decent for Moore. And a reminder: it's still very very early— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 13, 2017
Moore's strength in the white, rural counties with the *most* returns gives him a slight edge in our estimates.— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 13, 2017
If that holds, the question is whether Jones can beat our estimates in his base counties--metropolitan and majority black areas of Alabama? Not much there yet
Some better news for Jones: Limestone County now has 1 precinct left and Jones trails ourpreelection estimate by just .6 points. Also, Jones beating our estimate in Randolph and Russell, now the #2/3 most reported counties.— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 13, 2017
Folks this is going to be a long night.— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 13, 2017
Randolph County is done and Jones falls just 1.6 pts short of our estimate; Houston done and Jones falls .5 short. We're looking at a very tight race.
These aren't very representative counties. Low population. College educated voters are just 20 and 11% of the population. Very easy to imagine things going very differently elsewhere.— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 13, 2017
And in terms of turnout, both white, rural, GOP counties fell *short* of our estimates, with Randolph--the least educated--falling well short. For now, our model assumes these turnout errors are uniform. But if they're not, this could be an ominous sign for Moore.— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 13, 2017
Wow. Russell County just completed and Jones beat our estimate by 14 points. It's a 40% black county.— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 13, 2017
I almost wonder whether that will prove to be an error.
If it's not, as our model assumes, then Jones looks good.
UPDATE: Cohn suggest there could be a big GOP turnout problem, while Wasserman notes that this race is going to be very, very close. That does not bode well for Moore in a base election, which this is in Alabama.
This race is very, very close. #ALSEN— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) December 13, 2017
Folks, our model thinks that the GOP may have a big turnout problem.— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 13, 2017
The three, white, GOP counties have fallen far short of our turnout estimates--including two under 75% of our estimates.
That's what the big swing in our estimate is about.
Wow. Look at turnout in Perry Co. (Black Belt). It's at 76% of 2016 turnout and Jones is winning by 59%. Meanwhile, Houston Co. (Moore base) at only 58% of 2016 turnout. Jones has to like that. #ALSEN— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) December 13, 2017
A bit of good news for Jones: Russell is now all reporting. He needed to win by about 26% there, and he won it by 30%. #ALSEN— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) December 13, 2017
Moore doing better than we expected in his base, and Jones doing better than we expected in his base. What else is new: it's a base election. #ALSEN— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) December 13, 2017
Turnout is down relative to what I expected just about everywhere counting's done, but that's especially true in heavy Moore areas. #ALSEN— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) December 13, 2017
UPDATE: Roy Moore may have a serious problem, folks. Cohn says the "preponderance" of remaining the vote is in Democratic areas, with Wasserman noting a massive difference between black and white voter turnouts. Doug Jones could pull this off.
Jones now beating our estimates, on average, by 2.5 points in the 6 completed counties.— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 13, 2017
There is also stronger turnout in Democratic areas.
Here you can see the differential turnout issue for the GOP in completed counties.— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 13, 2017
In completed counties, turnout way lower than expected in Moore strongholds. pic.twitter.com/Ew1aVWivcI
IF anything like this graph holds, Moore is done. But there's a lot of uncertainty around this! Which is why we still think this is a lean/toss-up type race.— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 13, 2017
We think that the preponderance of the remaining vote is in Democratic-leaning areas pic.twitter.com/ES1JZr9SBd— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 13, 2017
My guess: we won't be confident until we get one of these big metropolitan counties to wrap up. Until then, metro turnout and extent of Jones strength a mystery. But underlying fact is that Jones is, on average, doing what he needs so far.— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 13, 2017
Amazing: turnout is at 72%-77% of '16 presidential race in heavily black counties, but just 55%-60% in rural white counties. Black voters punching above their weight tonight & giving Jones a chance. #ALSEN— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) December 13, 2017
Another strong Jones turnout in the Black Belt: Bullock Co., where turnout is 72% of presidential. Not seeing comparable in Moore zones. #ALSEN— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) December 13, 2017
UPDATE: Again, Democratic vote remaining is in Democratic bastions in Alabama. All eyes on Jefferson County (i.e. Birmingham) to truly nail how this is going to go.
We're now over a million votes counted. Almost all of the vote left is in Dem metro strongholds. We won't know how high (or low) the turnout is there until one of these big counties wraps up. pic.twitter.com/JTz8YRvNIp— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 13, 2017
Good areas remaining for Jones:— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) December 13, 2017
Good areas remaining for Moore:
I *think* Jones is the favorite...but need to see more Jefferson. #ALSEN
Looking really good for Jones, but we still don't know enough about the nature of what's out in Birmingham to say anything w/ certainty. #ALSEN— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) December 13, 2017
UPDATE: Jones takes the lead--and the rest of the state looks grim for Moore.
JONES takes the lead with Jones-leaning counties still to report pic.twitter.com/8nPSSvZ2bN— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 13, 2017
You might be wondering: how could Moore win?— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) December 13, 2017
Well, it could be the case that the remaining vote in these counties comes from white, Republican areas. Unlikely. But possible