Update: President Trump has reacted to Doug Jones' victory:
Congratulations to Doug Jones on a hard fought victory. The write-in votes played a very big factor, but a win is a win. The people of Alabama are great, and the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2017
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Update: US equity futures are sinking after Democrat Doug Jones unexpectedly wins the Alabama Senate special election against Roy Moore, the state’s Republican former chief justice who was dogged throughout the campaign by sexual misconduct accusations.
AP reports that Jones has 49.6% to Moore’s 48.8% with 88% of vote counted, enough to give him the win according to news stations. As a reminder, in 2016 President Trump carried the state election by nearly 30 ppts over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Jones wins seat vacated by Jeff Sessions, who became Trump’s attorney general.
Jones, 63, a former federal prosecutor, becomes first Democrat in U.S. Senate from deeply-Republican state of Alabama in over 20 years (last Ala. Democratic senator was Howell Heflin, who left office in 1997; the state’s senior senator Richard Shelby was a Democrat but switched parties to the Republicans in 1994)
Putting Jones' victory in context, T=the last time a new Democrat was elected to the Senate from Alabama is 1978. That senator, Howell Heflin, left in 1997.
In a twitter post, Alabama's new senator was laconic, stating simply "thank you Alabama"...
Thank you ALABAMA!!— Doug Jones (@GDouglasJones) December 13, 2017
... while top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said "things are looking better and better for 2018."
Once Jones is sworn in, GOP’s Senate majority would narrow to the smallest possible 51-49... which explains why US equity futures are sliding...
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Shortly after 8pm EST this evening, the voting results of one of the most controversial special elections in modern history, which pits Republican Roy Moore against Democrat Doug Jones for Jeff Sessions' vacant Senate seat, will start to flow in to news desks all around the country.
While this election would have been a complete blowout just a few months ago, allegations of sexual assault which surfaced against Moore in November and which reportedly occurred in the late '70s, have made it a complete toss up. As we noted earlier this morning, even pollsters have no clue how to predict voter turnout tonight with Fox News predicting a 10-point win for Jones and Emerson predicting a 9-point win for Moore.
For those looking to get an early read on how the night might turn out, we would suggest keeping a close eye on Mobile which is the second largest county in Alabama and is home to a disproportionate share of the state's affluent republicans who are the most likely to abandon Moore. Otherwise, while voter turnout will undoubtedly be down from the 2016 presidential contest, shifts in support in Jefferson and Montgomery counties, both with high concentrations of African-American voters, could provide an early signal on whether Jones has been successful in turning out his base.
With that intro, tune in below for the live results:
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For those who missed it, below is the preview we shared earlier this morning.
After a last weekend of campaigning with celebrities, Doug Jones (D) with Alabama native Charles Barkley and Roy Moore (R) with Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon and controversial former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, election day for one of the most controversial special elections in modern U.S. history has finally arrived.
As The Hill points out, Moore's chances to become the first Democrat to win an Alabama Senate seat since 1992 rely on his ability to turnout African-American voters in cities like Birmingham and Montgomery. Moore's fate, on the other hand, depends on voters in the more affluent city of Mobile and rural white voters from around the state.
Jones spent the weekend on stops with prominent black Democratic lawmakers such as Alabama Rep. Terri Sewell and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, while Congressional Black Caucus members Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) and Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) held get-out-the-vote events down state.
While African-Americans make up roughly a quarter of Alabama’s population, years of dismal Democratic returns have left his party without much of a ground game.
“I wish that the [Democratic National Committee] had focused more on states and making certain they had infrastructure here,” he said.
While Moore’s time on the trail has been limited recently — there were rumors he attended the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia on Saturday — he did sit down for an interview on “The Voice of Alabama Politics” at the state Republican Party headquarters, which aired Sunday.
Of course, as we pointed out yesterday, the polls headed into election day are almost completely useless as pollsters admit they have no idea how to handicap voter turnout today. While voter turnout in mid-cycle elections is always difficult to predict, this one is especially complicated in light of the sexual assault allegations against Roy Moore.
Which is precisely why the latest Fox News Poll of likely voters showed a commanding 10-point lead for Democrat Doug Jones....
Even though a poll released the day before by Emerson showed the exact opposite with a 9-point lead for Moore. Per Real Clear Politics:
As CNN notes, the key to victory in Alabama could come down to Mobile, a region that is home to scores of more affluent, moderate, business-type Republicans who are most likely to abandon Moore for Jones or simply elect to sit this election out.
There's a reason Trump's event was in Pensacola, and Moore closed his campaign with big rallies in Fairhope a week from election day and Midland City on Monday night: They're all in the Mobile media market.
If Jones is going to win, he can't rely purely on turning out his base and hoping Republicans stay home. He'll need some white, conservative supporters, and the Mobile region is his best chance to win some.
Those are the voters Moore's supporters have targeted with a message that the election is a referendum on Trump's agenda.
"It's an up-or-down vote tomorrow between the Trump miracle and the nullification project," Bannon said Monday night in Midland City.
As a quick reminder, here is how Alabama voted in the 2016 Presidential election. Hillary performed well in the heavily African-American cities of Birmingham (+7.6%) and Montgomery (+26.8%) while Trump carried Mobile (+13.7%) and most of the rural areas of the state.
All of which ultimately resulted in a massive 27.7 point blowout victory for Trump.
So, after weeks of intense media focus on an election that should have been a foregone conclusion, we are now just a few hours away from finding out whether Republicans made their first a serious special election blunder by choosing to support a highly controversial candidate who was potentially doomed from the moment sexual assault allegations against him first surfaced last month.