Alabama has elected a Democrat to the US senate for the first time in 25 years, in a shock blow to Donald Trump and the Republican Party in Washington.
Retired judge Roy Moore, who has said homosexuality should be illegal, called Islam a “false religion” and was accused of child molestation, narrowly lost to Doug Jones, meaning the Senate is now finely balanced between Trump’s Republicans and the Democrats 51-49.
5 reasons why Moore’s defeat has America talking...
1. Black voters came out for Jones, big time.
An exit poll by the Washington Post showed the huge split in how black and white people had voted.
Black turnout was higher than in the presidential election of 2016, when the state delivered a resounding victory for Trump.
More than 90% of black men and women voted for Jones, while big majorities of white men and women - 74% and 65% respectively - voted for Moore.
Steve Bannon describes himself as a economic nationalist but critics say he is a white nationalist. He quit the Trump White House in August to return to run right-wing Breitbart News and went down to Alabama to campaign for Moore.
Bannon broke with much of the Republican Party, and even Trump, when he backed Moore in the primary over Trump’s preferred candidate Luther Strange. He staked his reputation as a political bogeyman and calculating genius on the race and lost.
Josh Holmes, a former aide to Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, thanked Bannon “for showing us how to lose the reddest state in the union”.
3. It’s not the reckoning for Trump you might think
It’s embarrassing for the President to have backed not one, but two losing candidates in this race, sticking by Moore even as allegations of child molestation were made against him. Moore channeled Trump, crying “fake news” against the allegations.
But don’t count on the most unlikely president of modern times changing his tune over this. To lose in Alabama with Trump’s backing is remarkable, but Moore had his own problems.
HuffPost’s S. V. Date writes: “The loss in solidly Republican Alabama, though, will likely have a different rationale: Moore was so damaged a nominee that no broader lessons can be drawn from it.”
“He’s such an awful candidate that I don’t think we can extrapolate,” one Republican official said.
4. Moore’s defeat makes the Republicans weaker in the senate
There are now 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats in the US Senate. Just one Republican needs to flip for their majority to be lost.
In November, CNN analysed the numbers and found there were 12 senate votes this year that would have “have failed or been in jeopardy” with one Republican fewer.
It also does not bode well for Republicans’ brand or agenda. As HuffPost’s Jonathan Cohn noted, a poll showed Alabamans were split, 48%-48%, on whether they approved of Trump as president.
Cohn wrote: “That’s quite a statement from voters in a state that voted overwhelmingly for Trump just a little more than a year ago...
“If that sentiment persists, it could mean major Democratic gains in the 2018 November midterms.”
5. Doug Jones echoed Jo Cox in his victory speech
Jones, a former prosecutor who brought KKK members to justice for the 1963 church bombing that killed four African-American girls, said Alabama had “more in common than divides us” in his victory speech.
This is a direct echo of the words murdered MP Jo Cox famously used in her maiden speech to the House of Commons in 2015, something her widower Brendan Cox acknowledged.