In a stunning upset, Democrat Doug Jones has defeated Republican Roy Moore to become the next Senator for the state of Alabama. Jones will be the first Democratic Senator from the state since long-term Democrat Senator Howard Heflin left the Senate in 1997.
The Associated Press called the race for Jones in a tweet posted around 10:30 Tuesday night. Jones, who had trailed Moore earlier in the night, staged a come-from-behind victory as results started to pour in from more densely populated urban centers such as Birmingham and Montgomery.
According to exit polling reported by NBC News, the results of the election in Alabama saw sharp divisions along race, age, and gender lines.
Roy Moore, who was caught on tape stating that America has not been “great” since before the Civil War according to Salon, has been branded a racist by some of his opponents. Such comments were not rewarded in this election, which saw Moore receiving only four percent of the black vote in the state. Jones, who has a strong civil rights record that includes the prosecution of Ku Klux Klan members who murdered children in a 1963 church bombing in Birmingham, received 96 percent of support from black voters.
An ominous sign for Republicans comes in the exit polling by age. NBC News reports that among voters aged 18-44, Jones received a whopping 61 percent vs. Moore’s 38 percent. Even when the age bracket is expanded to the ages of 18-64, Jones still managed to beat Moore by a considerable margin of 53 percent to 45 percent. Voters over the age of 65 chose Moore 59 to 40 percent over Jones. Republicans should be greatly concerned at what these numbers suggest. Their base of support is not getting any younger.
Moore, who has been the focus of sex scandals alleging his proclivity for chasing after underage girls as young as 14 years of age, lost the vote among women after receiving only 41 percent to Jones’s 58 percent of the female vote.
While Roy Moore lost the election, perhaps the biggest loser of the night is President Donald Trump. The results suggest that even in solidly conservative states like Alabama, Republicans are perhaps increasingly only going to be able to count on older white voters whose numbers are decreasing at a quicker rate than younger voters. The strategy of appealing to these voters is going to reach a breaking point. Perhaps that breaking point is now.
People are paying closer attention to politics now than at any point in recent memory. While Republicans still control the bulk of elected offices in this country, a win for a Democrat in Alabama should send chills down the spines of Republicans who are hoping to win elections in the coming few years. Trump has been a divisive president whose list of “accomplishments” read like a list of failures to all but the most conservative of voters. In the words of Bob Dylan, perhaps the “the times they are a’ changing,” but only time will tell.