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The 2017 Alabama Senate Results

A Blue Win & Red Backlash

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Image of the Russel Senate Office Building, available on behalf of the US Government, as it is for educational and news purposes.

Image of the Russel Senate Office Building, available on behalf of the US Government, as it is for educational and news purposes.

Photo Credit Architect of the Capitol

Photo Credit Architect of the Capitol

Image of the Russel Senate Office Building, available on behalf of the US Government, as it is for educational and news purposes.

Taylor Rohleen

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Democrat Doug Jones defeats Republican candidate Roy Moore for the Senate seat vacancy, at the United States special election.

What designates an election to be “historic”? Is it simply a close race, an unlikely candidate winning, a party realignment, or rather some unique attribute in a campaign? Must there be multiple “historic” factors to constitute as such? In any event, the recent Alabama Senate Election is “historic” in nearly every aspect of it. From the candidates, to the allegations against Moore, to the exit poll demography, this election is unlike any other.

Historically, Alabama has maintained fondness for the GOP: According to a 2012 Gallup poll, Alabama is considered the most conservative state (1), as about 52% of its voters are affiliated as Republican or leaning Republican (2). Jeff Sessions, Jones’s predecessor, is also a registered Republican. This in and of itself presented immense obstacles for Jones.

He, in turn, spent far more on resources than Moore. Funded by out-of-state Super PACs and donors, Jones received $7.6 million more than Moore (3), which allowed him to allocate greater funds. Six times more, in fact, on TV ads alone (4). The role of Super PACs was critical for the Democratic win, truly highlighting how directing enough capital, in the right places, impacts the ballot. In sum—both literally and figuratively—Jones’s total $11.8 million versus Moore’s $5.3 million illustrates how he not only put in additional effort in order to earn more funds, but, in turn, he also gained more public support and thus more donations (5).

Another factor in gaining public support were the Roy Moore sexual misconduct allegations. While some voters—35%, to be exact—believe that the allegations bore no effect to their ballot, a vast 60% opined that the allegations did carry their way onto the ballot. And of those who reported that that the allegations were “not an important factor,” 27% still voted for Jones (6). This confirms that many voters were confident in Jones prior to the election, for these accusations only fortified many voters’ opinions.

Regarding those who were unsure, a mere 12% of voters decided for whom to cast ballots only a few days prior to the election (6). The scandal likely influenced their ballot, and while some contend that the scandal ought not, I beg to differ. Elections are an amalgamation of a nominee, their political ideology, and their general morale. Alabama should not desire a candidate who sexually harasses people to be a member of the Senate. If Moore cannot properly manage himself, how could he possibly manage the public opinion of Alabamians? How ought we trust someone who reportedly assaults minors (7)? We are the sum of our actions. They define us, and if his actions are true, he deserves not to win. No one in their right mind would carry out actions such as he.

At any rate, the events leading up to the election prompted a 14 point deduction in the 2016 Presidential Election GOP margin (8). Reflecting this change, the point difference among the mean and suburban white voters is identical: A softening in Republican notion took place.

The peripheral countries surrounding major cities, college towns, and Black-dominated counties tended to vote more Democratic. In some cases—the counties of Madison, Mobile, Tuscaloosa, Auburn—the majority voted blue, in contrast to the red result of the 2016 Presidency. It’s clear that Jones ran an effective campaign, as he “[expanded] the Democratic electorate” and targeted voters “who were appalled by Moore,” encouraging them to vote for him as an alternative (9).

By focusing on these regions, Jones brought a Democratic upheaval to the election’s demography. Increasing turnout, Jones elicited even more Democratic voters than Obama’s campaign: In the 2012 Presidency, women consisted as 54% of voters with 42% selecting Obama; whereas, 57% of women in this election selected Jones (6, 10). This is a “historic” blue victory, as women outvoted the Republican candidate—unlike the Obama election—despite them making up less of the electorates (51%), this time around (10)

From these characteristics, the Democratic Party prevailed in the 2017 Alabama US Senate special election. For the first time in 25 years, this typically red state turned blue (11). Many Republicans are livid, but not in all cases: President Trump himself congratulated Jones on his “hard fought” victory (12). Moore, however, “[refuses] to concede the election” until the final votes are counted (13).

While Jones will not serve a full term, this newfound comradeship between Trump and Jones may blossom, healing the immense divide between the two parties. Hoping for more political unity, only time will tell.

 

(1) http://news.gallup.com/poll/160196/alabama-north-dakota-wyoming-conservative-states.aspx

(2) http://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/compare/party-affiliation/by/state/

(3) https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/12/12/16767130/jones-moore-campaign-donors

(4) http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/doug-jones-built-no-holds-barred-campaign-1115329603962

(5) https://www.fec.gov/data/elections/senate/AL/2018/

(6) https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2017-election/AL

(7) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/12/10/moore-calls-sexual-assault-allegations-ritual-defamation/?utm_term=.7c7281324442

(8) https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/12/13/us/politics/alabama-senate-election-roy-moore.html

(9) https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/doug-jones-democrats_us_5a30937ee4b091ca2683b970

(10) http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/results/polls/#ALP00p1

(11) http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/12/13/alabama-senate-election-doug-jones-defeats-roy-moore-fox-news-projects.html

(12) https://mobile.twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/940795587733151744

(13) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/12/13/roy-moore-saying-immorality-sweeps-over-our-land-declines-again-to-concede/?utm_term=.7408484ef226

About the Writer
Taylor Rohleen, Editor-in-Chief
Student Body President. Captain of the Swim Team. FJCL Vice President. Dancing Queen.
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