Black Voters Carried Doug Jones to Senate Victory

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 11.01.41 AMBlack voters in Alabama played a huge role in Doug Jones’ win for a Senate seat. He beat out Roy Moore last night in an election to fill the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions, who  is now the U.S. Attorney General. However, the race was close. Jones won with 49.9 percent of the vote; Moore had 48.4 percent. Write-ins also garnered more than 1 percent of the vote.

But the percentages for black voters are even more interesting. A whopping 96 percent of black voters supported Jones. Digging even further, 98 percent of black women voters cast their ballot for the Democratic candidate while 93 percent of black men did the same, according to CNN.

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It’s the first time a Democratic politician has represented the state in the Senate in over 25 years.

“I have always believed that the people of Alabama have more in common than to divide us,” Jones said in his acceptance speech. “We have shown not just around the state of Alabama but we have shown the country the way that we can be unified.”

However, the numbers may not exactly reflect that, considering the majority of white voters backed Moore. Jones did best with voters of colors and young voters, according to the New York Times. And while black women are trending on Twitter and journalists are hammering out think pieces to thank them, some say it’s not enough.

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“We carry this nation,” said Roberta “Big Bertha” Jones, an activist just outside of New York City. She said she’d  been watching the race closely because she knew black women also played a huge role in the election of President Donald Trump. Then, the majority of white women voters backed Trump despite allegations of sexual harassment. “[Zora Neale] Hurston once said we’re the mule of the Earth and I think some people focus on that meaning we’re downtrodden. But no the mule does all the work, with little thanks. People love cheering for [Shirley] Chisholm but how many of those ‘supporters’ would vote for her if she ran now?”

voterstickerJones’ echoes many tweets and posts that argue the same point: thanking black women isn’t enough, you have to support them in their own work, including attempts at office.

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However, this victory doesn’t mean Alabama is suddenly progressive. For many Republicans, it was a wake-up call.

“I didn’t expect Roy [Moore] to lose honestly,” said Michael Weaver, a construction worker in Rochester and former College Republican. “It’s Alabama. It’s kind of like if a Republican won a New York seat. I think we expect to be the minority here, but there, well it just goes to show that progressives are fighting hard and we have to too.”

President Donald Trump also used the election to analyze the future of American politics. He pointed to the write-ins, which amounted to over 1 percent of the vote. And in a tweet he said, “last night’s election proved we need to put up GREAT Republican candidates to increase thin margins in” Congress.

Alabama’s politics aren’t over. And there’s a few message to learn from this: 1) Black voters play a critical role in American politics. Candidates shouldn’t overlook that community. 2) White women and women of color have different political interests, particularly in the south and other parts of the nation and 3) It’s certainly not enough to say thank you.

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