Jones wins narrowly over Moore in Butler County

Published 12:44 pm Saturday, December 16, 2017

Tuesday’s U.S. Senate special election resulted in an upset victory for Democratic candidate Doug Jones over controversial Republican Roy Moore.

Jones’ victory came as a result of a coalition of African-American, young and female voters. In Butler County, Jones won by a narrow 158 votes, bolstered in part by 41 write-in votes.

Glancing back at previous statewide and national elections can give an idea of how unusual this result is.

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In 2016, Republican Donald Trump took Butler County over Hillary Clinton by more than 1,000 votes, suggesting an energized Republican base.

For a sense of scale, almost 9,000 of Butler County’s registered voters participated in the 2016 general election.

On Tuesday, 5,711 voters participated, which still represents a 42 percent turnout. Moore received around half the votes that Trump garnered, which even with the lower turnout indicates a far less motivated Republican voter base.

Statewide voting statistics indicate a strong preference for Doug Jones among African-American voters, with 96 percent casting a vote for him.

Women and young voters also went for Jones, voting for the Democrat with 57 percent and 60 percent majorities respectively.

The widely publicized controversies surrounding Judge Moore had the dual result of engaging Alabama Democrats and stymying Republicans. 

Butler County Probate Judge Steve Norman expressed surprise at the wide turnout.

“I don’t think anyone would have predicted the large turnout that we had on Tuesday,” Norman said.

The Republican primary in September brought out fewer than 2,000 voters, with Roy Moore trouncing opponent Luther Strange by 418 votes.

County turnout for the Democratic primary did not even reach 1,000 total votes among the seven candidates on the ballot. Looking at county-wide participation in past elections, surprise at the response to the energetic response to a special Senate election is certainly warranted.

In regards to Jones’ narrow win in Butler County, Norman said, “I would suggest that more young people got out and exercised their right to vote than would normally be expected… Social media surely affected the turnout as well.”

Regarding voter participation in general, Norman praised the county’s registered voters, saying “I am very proud of the level of participation and hope we continue to see this going forward.”