Black voters were instrumental in Democratic Senate Candidate Doug Jones’ historic win in Alabama Tuesday night.
Turnout was very high in heavily black counties, between about 72 and 77 percent of the 2016 election turnout, while it was just 55 to 60 percent in rural white counties, according to the Cook Political Report. In one particular county, Russell County — which is 40 percent black — Jones beat the New York Times estimate by 14 points.
Exit polling around 6:00 p.m. EST showed that nearly 30 percent of voters at that time were African American, a turnout figure trending toward the record highs of the Obama years. Exit polling also found that African American women, who make up 18 percent of the electorate, went for Jones by a margin of 97 to three.
In 2014, Republicans won the Alabama Senate seat that was up for grabs Tuesday with 97 percent of the vote. Jones’ historic victory Tuesday is largely due to the fact that he mobilized the Democratic and largely African American base in the state.
In the lead-up to the race, high-profile African American politicians, including Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) campaigned for Jones in the state. But many black voters faced extra hurdles at the voting booth Tuesday. Many were listed as “inactive” and forced to cast provisional ballots.
“It’s not that we’re not showing up to vote — we’re being suppressed,” one woman, Dechauna Jiles, told ThinkProgress earlier on election day. “[Roy Moore, the Republican nominee] is going to win, not because our people didn’t speak, but because our vote was suppressed.”
The mood was different at Jones’ election night party, however.
“You are seeing right now history in the state of Alabama. Alabama is a state of wonderful people,” Blair Liggins, a Birmingham voter who had been volunteering for the Jones campaign told ThinkProgress at Jones’ election night party. “Everyone automatically thinks that with a Democratic candidate that you’re just going to get the African American vote, and I really believe that Doug Jones did not just take that for granted.”
The Alabama race has been at hotly contested in recent weeks after nine different women came forward alleging Republican candidate Roy Moore had sexually abused them. One woman was just 14 when Moore, who was in his 30’s at the time, allegedly molested her.
Additional reporting by Kira Lerner.