Doug Jones’s defeat of Roy S. Moore in Tuesday’s bitterly fought special Senate election was one of the most unlikely upsets in recent campaign history. But the Democrats’ victory in Alabama carries some more immediate political implications.
A Suburban Shellacking
Voters in Alabama’s cities and most affluent suburbs overwhelmingly rejected Mr. Moore’s candidacy, an ominous sign for Republicans on the ballot next year in upscale districts. In Jefferson County, which includes Birmingham and some of the state’s wealthiest enclaves, Mr. Jones, the Democratic candidate, captured more than 68 percent of the vote. And in Madison County, home to Huntsville and a large NASA facility, Mr. Jones won 57 percent of the vote.
While these Alabamians, many of them women, may have been appalled by the claims of sexual misconduct against Mr. Moore, results like these were not isolated to this race. They mirrored returns in last month’s statewide and legislative races in Virginia, a state filled with well-heeled suburbanites.
These highly educated and high-income voters, while often open to supporting Republicans, are uneasy with the hard-edged politics of President Trump and part of the reason his approval ratings are so dismal. If Republican candidates facing well-off voters next year do not find a way to separate themselves from the president, they will face a punishing midterm election next year.
Democrats struggled for years, under President Barack Obama, to turn out African-American voters in off-year elections. For Mr. Jones, robust black turnout was essential to victory. He poured resources into African-American outreach and even summoned political leaders from out of state, including Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey and Deval Patrick, the former Massachusetts governor, to help in the race’s final days.
Black voters turned out in force, handing Mr. Jones a decisive lead in Alabama’s cities and predominantly black rural counties. In Jefferson County, home to Birmingham and its whiter suburbs, turnout exceeded the 2014 governor’s race by about 30 percent, and Mr. Jones nearly matched Hillary Clinton’s vote total there. Other populous, heavily African-American counties, including Montgomery and Dallas County, where Selma is, also exceeded their 2014 turnout. Following last month’s elections in Virginia and New Jersey, when African-Americans helped vault Democrats to victories, the Alabama race is another sign that the party’s most loyal voters are fired up.