Democrats defeat Roy Moore, dealing huge blow to Trump
Alabama: The Democrat Doug Jones has beaten his Donald Trump-backed Republican rival Roy Moore in the diehard Republican state of Alabama, setting off a political earthquake that shook Washington.
His victory in a special election for a US Senate seat – by a margin of 49.9 to 48.4 with 100% of precincts reporting – is a major personal blow to the president and his efforts to pass tax reform on Capitol Hill.
Jones was able to become the first Democrat in a decade to win any statewide office in Alabama by beating Moore, who had faced multiple allegations of sexual assault during a campaign which exposed Republican party faultlines.
Moore, who late on Tuesday was refusing to concede the race, had been favored in the deep red state until two women came forward to claim that Moore assaulted them when they were teenagers; a number of other women said the Alabama Republican had romantically pursued them when they were underage. Moore has denied all the allegations.
Alabama has long faced a profound racial divide, which was reflected in the results. According to an exit poll, Jones won 95% of the African-American vote but only 27% of the white vote in the Yellowhammer State. However, widespread African-American turnout on Jones's behalf overcame Moore's margins in rural, predominantly white parts of Alabama.
Jones also made significant inroads among college-educated whites. He won well-educated Madison county by a margin of 57-40. A center of the aerospace industry, the county voted for Trump by a margin of 55-38 in 2016.
Jones emerged to a euphoric reception just before 10pm local time. "Folks, I gotta tell you, I think that I have been waiting all my life and now I just don't know what the hell to say," he said, beginning a 10-minute speech. "I have always believed that the people of Alabama had more in common than what would divide us."
The election had never been either about him or Moore, he insisted. "This entire race has been about dignity and respect. This campaign has been about the rule of law. This campaign has been about common courtesy and decency and making sure everyone in this state, regardless of what zip code you live in, is going to get a fair shake."
His speech was met with cheers and applause and chants of "USA! USA!"
The Democratic victory will reduce the Republican majority in the Senate to 51-49 once Jones takes his seat on Capitol Hill. This significantly reduces the margin for error as Republicans attempt to push through a major corporate tax cut.
They already have one defector in senator Bob Corker, and Jones's election means a single additional Republican breaking ranks would sink the legislation.
Moore's defeat also marks a major personal blow to Trump, who endorsed the Alabama Republican and held a rally on his behalf just over the state line in Pensacola, Florida. Although most national Republicans rushed to distance themselves from Moore in the aftermath of the allegations, Trump reaffirmed his support through tweets and public statements.