Moore has not conceded, but the margin of victory is high enough to ensure no automatic recount.
Of the 20 counties that saw their turnout rise in comparison to the 2014 midterm elections in Alabama, an election comparable in size to the Senate special election, half were rural counties in the state’s agricultural “Black Belt” where African Americans make up between 59% of registered voters (Hale) to 82% (Greene). Based on unofficial but complete returns in those counties, Jones received between 69% of the vote (Hale) to 88% (Greene and Macon).
Four of the highest turnout counties contain state’s four largest cities: Jefferson County has Birmingham, Montgomery County is home to the state capital, Montgomery, Madison County has Huntsville and Mobile County has Mobile. Both Jefferson and Montgomery counties also have high numbers of African-American voters, 41% and 57%, respectively. Madison, an engineering and research hub with the US Army Redstone Arsenal and Marshall Space Flight Center, has fewer African-American voters, 23%. What it has in abundance is well-off and well-educated voters: it ranks second in all of the state’s 67 counties for college-educated adults, 39%, and the median household income of the county’s residents is the second-highest in the state. Jefferson and Montgomery counties also have the fourth and fifth highest share of four-year college educated voters, roughly 31% each.
Jones carried Jefferson with 68% and won Montgomery with 72%. Both of those are relative Democratic strongholds and Moore has never had much of a following in those major metro counties. In the 2012 election for the chief justice of the state Supreme Court (which Moore narrowly won), Democrat Bob Vance won Jefferson and Montgomery with 63% and 71%, respectively.
Jones’ victory in Madison County stands out. While Hillary Clinton carried both Jefferson and Montgomery in 2016, Trump carried Madison 55%-38%. His margin over Clinton was more 26,000 votes. Jones flipped the county winning 57%-40% over Moore. His margin of more than 19,000 votes in Madison is almost equal to his current statewide margin of 20,715 votes.
Mobile County is one where the median household income and the percentage of college-educated voters are lower than the state average. Some 35% of its voters are African-Americans. Like Madison, this was a county Moore lost in his 2012 state Supreme Court election. But Trump won Mobile 55%-42%. And it had to be satisfying for Democrats to see Jones prevail here 56%-42%.
Jones also benefited from big turnout in urban areas.
Taken together, the four big metro counties — Jefferson, Montgomery, Madison and Mobile — which have urban cores and suburbs, were by far the biggest contributor to Jones’ victory. His combined margin over Moore in these big four was almost 149,000 votes. In 21 largely rural Black Belt counties, Jones’ margin over Moore was just over 37,000.
In 13 other suburban and exurban counties, places like Shelby outside of Birmingham, Limestone next door to Huntsville and Baldwin adjacent to Mobile, Jones only lost by about 57,000 votes. In the 29 white rural counties, all won by Moore, his margin over Jones was only 108,000 votes.
And how did these groupings fare in terms of turnout? The big four metro counties combined saw their turnout increase by roughly 6.5% above the 2014 midterm levels. Turnout in the 13 other suburban and exurban counties was essentially even with 2014’s levels. In the 21 rural Black Belt counties, turnout was actually down slightly overall. But in those 29 white rural counties, turnout was down 5.4%.
But other than race and urban, the rest of the demographics fell to where you might expect. Young voters preferred Jones, born-again Christians preferred Moore, etc.
The other primary reason for Jones’ win was strong antipathy toward Moore among white, suburban, college-educated conservatives. Many of them chose to sit out the election or follow the lead of Sen. Richard Shelby and write in an option other than Moore.
So who loses (besides, of course, Moore? Well, Steve Bannon I would think. He went full bore for Moore. Bannon spoke at two rallies for Moore over the past week, campaigned for him during the GOP runoff, and spoke at the victory party when Moore captured the GOP nomination. Bannon was in attendance at the Alabama Republican’s Tuesday victory party and had been expected to speak in the event of a Moore victory — a plan that was ultimately scrapped.
“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,” said Steven Law, who runs a “super PAC” controlled by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader.
Of course, the Bannon wing of the GOP is blaming McConnell and the establishment GOP. “They colluded with the Democrats to undermine a pro-Trump candidate like Judge Moore just like they are going to try to do that in 2018 to myself and other pro-Trump candidates,” said Corey Stewart, who is challenging Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia and attended Mr. Moore’s election night party. “We’re going through a civil war in the Republican Party.”
No kidding. 🙂
And what about Trump? Yeah, not good for him either. He originally backed Moore’s primary challenger, Luther Strange. Strange lost. Then, Ignoring pleas from McConnell and other senior Republicans, Trump jumped in for Moore. Just days before the election, he went to the Florida Panhandle, just across the Alabama state line, to campaign for Moore. He also cut a robo-call for the candidate and he tweeted his support.
I guess the good news is that the Republican rift still exists, despite the loss for Bannon/Trump.
And good news for Democrats in general. Ever since the 2016 election, Dems have done very well, even in red states. Just look at how Democrats have overperformed from 2016 and previous races in these particular states and congressional districts:
- KS-4 in 2016: Mike Pompeo 61%, Daniel Giroux 30% (R+31)
- KS-4 in 2016 (presidential results): Trump 60%, Clinton 33% (R+27)
- KS-4 in 2017: Ron Estes 53%, James Thompson 46% (R+7)
- GA-6 in 2016: Tom Price 62%, Rodney Stooksbury 38% (R+24)
- GA-6 in 2016 (presidential results): Trump 48%, Clinton 47% (R+1)
- GA-6 in 2017 (initial round): Jon Ossoff 48%, Karen Handel 20%, Bob Gray 11%, Dan Moody 9%, Judson Hill 9%.
- GA-6 in 2017 (runoff): Handel 52%, Ossoff 48% (R+4)
- MT-AL in 2016: Ryan Zinke 56%, Denise Juneau 40% (R+16)
- MT in 2016 (presidential results): Trump 57%, Clinton 36% (R+21)
- MT-AL in 2017: Greg Gianforte 50%, Rob Quist 44% (R+6)
- SC-5 in 2016: Mick Mulvaney 59%, Fran Person 39% (R+20)
- SC-5 in 2016 (presidential results): Trump 57%, Clinton 39% (R+18)
- SC-5 in 2017: Ralph Norman 51%, Archie Parnell 48% (R+3)
- NJ GOV in 2013: Chris Christie 60%, Barbara Buono 38% (R+22)
- NJ in 2016 (presidential results): Clinton 55%, Trump 41% (D+14)
- NJ GOV in 2017: Phil Murphy 56%, Kim Guadagno 42% (D+14)
- VA GOV in 2013: Terry McAuliffe 48%, Ken Cuccinelli 45% (D+3)
- VA in 2016 (presidential results): Clinton 50%, Trump 44% (D+6)
- VA GOV in 2017: Ralph Northam 54%, Ed Gillespie 45% (D+9)
- AL SEN in 2016: Shelby 64%, Crumpton 36% (R+28)
- AL in 2016 (presidential results): Trump 62%, Clinton 34% (R+28)
- AL SEN in 2017: Doug Jones 50%, Roy Moore 48% (D+2)
2018 is looking good.