Starting your morning out with math doesn’t necessarily sound very sexy. But today is a good one to make an exception. In yesterday’s special election to replace Jeff Session’s Senate seat, Alabama voters elected Democrat Doug Jones over Republican Roy Moore (who has been accused of sexual misconduct with underage girls) — a stunning upset considering Alabama hasn’t had a Democratic senator since 1992 (and even that guy eventually switched parties and became a Republican).
So um… what happened? Did Alabama voters collectively say “Nah” to Moore and the horse he (literally) rode in on? Not so much.
TAKEAWAY #1: Black voters showed up, mostly voted Democrat.
According to The Washington Post’s exit polls, Alabama voters’ choice of candidate largely correlated with their race. A majority of white voters (68%) choose Moore versus Jones (30%). In comparison, 98 percent of black voters went with Jones.
TAKEAWAY #2: What did women want? Depended on their race.
And in case you’re interested in intersectionality check out these numbers: both white women (63%) and white men (72%) mostly voted for Moore. Black women, on the other hand, overwhelmingly voted for Democrat Doug Jones (98%), a higher percentage than even black men (93%), according to The Washington Post’s exit polls.
TAKEAWAY #3: Most young voters chose Jones
Looking to your fellow millennial and Gen Z voters? Sixty percent of Alabama voters 18 to 29 voted for Jones. But does that mean red states will gradually turn blue over time, or will young progressives turn conservative as they age? Only time will tell.
TAKEAWAY #4: White voters are willing to overlook political scandal for other factors.
So how do we process these election results? Some are saying it’s a warning sign for Republicans, or creepy dudes, or both. But before we get ahead of ourselves, there’s one more set of numbers that it’s worth looking long and hard at from the Alabama election. Despite the fact that The Washington Post’s exit polls found that most women (57%) and nearly half of white men (42%) believed Moore’s accusers were telling the truth, a majority of white people still voted for him. To answer the question, “But whyyyyyyyy?” it may be telling to look at the issues. Doug Jones holds a pro-abortion rights stance, while Moore is staunchly anti-abortion rights. Alabama is also a deeply Republican state. So before you start making too many assumptions about what Alabama’s special election will mean for the next political cycle, keep your eyes glued to the numbers.