GAME OVER: Democrat Doug Jones Defeats Republican Roy Moore In Alabama

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Posted: Dec 12, 2017 8:16 PM
GAME OVER: Democrat Doug Jones Defeats Republican Roy Moore In Alabama

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.

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.

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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.

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. 

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. 

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.

UPDATE: Never mind that last update; Roy Moore is doing just fine in Limestone County.

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:

UPDATE: Cohn says this could be a long night (Correction: Not really):

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.

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.

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.

UPDATE: Jones takes the lead--and the rest of the state looks grim for Moore.