Alabama Senate race: live results

Election day is here in Alabama, where Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones are competing in a special election that has captivated national attention and costed an estimated $40 million.

Moore, a former state Supreme Court chief justice, has been dogged by a series of molestation and sexual assault allegations, dramatically tightening the race for the deep-red Senate seat.

Jones, a former federal prosecutor, is hoping to mount a huge upset and become the first Democrat in 25 years to win a Senate seat in Alabama.

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The Hill will be providing live updates as results roll in as well as details from on the ground in Alabama.

Gloomy mood at Moore party after defeat 

Update — 11:08 p.m. 

MONTGOMERY, AL. — Tuesday night's stunning victory by Alabama Democrat Doug Jones sucked the life out of Republican Roy Moore's would-be victory party in Montgomery. 

 

 

Ten minutes after news outlets called the race, the Moore event's emcee walked out to tell the crowd to pray for Moore and that they are not conceding. 
 
“There are still a couple counties that haven’t come in all the way," he said. 
 
"Some people have called the race, we’re not calling it yet.” 
 
Supporters may have been unwittingly fooled into thinking their candidate was doing better even as the writing on the wall became clear. The campaign projected the New York Times's results webpage onto a screen in the front of the room. Moore remained ahead in that raw vote count for much of the night before the news outlets called the race. 
 
But if the campaign had scrolled further down on the screen, they would have seen what prompted prognosticators to realize it would not be Moore's night — a significant number of votes left to be counted from Democratic strongholds while fewer and fewer red-leaning counties remained on the board. 
 
The once-buzzing party in downtown Montgomery had gone quiet. 
 
At one point, the campaign took down the results to turn on local news. The news station then switched over to the Jones victory party, and a group of people in the front row put their arms around each other, bowed their heads, and prayed. Almost 40 minutes after the Associated Press called the race, the emcee returned to the stage and led the guests in prayer and Biblical songs. 
 

Doug Jones projected to win

Update — 10:30 p.m.

In a shocking win in a heavily Republican state, Doug Jones is projected to win. Jones currently leads Moore, 49.6 percent to 48.9 percent, with 92 percent of precincts reporting.

Dem. Senator: 'Could this be more exciting?'

Update — 10:20 p.m.

Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillConservatives spark threat of bloody GOP primaries Congress needs to work to combat the poverty, abuse and neglect issues that children face Lobbying world MORE (D-Mo.) weighed in on the race as Jones pulled even with Moore, putting him on a potential path to pull off an upset in the red state.

“Oh. My Goodness. Could this be more exciting?” McCaskill tweeted.

Jones leads Moore by less than 1 percentage point with 85 percent of precincts reporting.

McCaskill is considered one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats on the ballot next year.

Reasons for Jones to feel good about his chances

Update — 10:10 p.m.

While Moore still leads in the tally by a few thousand votes, Jones and his Democratic supporters have good reason to feel positive about his chances. Among the signs Democrats are pointing to:

NYT needle forecast causes 2016 election flashbacks

Update — 10:03 p.m.

Reporters, pundits and casual observers watched anxiously as The New York Times’s election forecast needle dial showed Jones with a shrinking advantage roughly two hours after polls closed. 

“The NYT meter is suddenly down to Jones +2.1. The meter is designed to get your hopes up only to crush your dreams,” Twitter user Josh Jordan tweeted.  

“Do not, I repeat, do not watch this meter,” an ABC News reporter tweeted.

The needle gained notoriety during last year’s presidential race, when it moved from a solid forecast for Hillary Clinton toward a victory for President Trump. 

Moore's lead shrinks

Update — 9:59 p.m.

More than three quarters of precincts are reporting, and Moore’s lead has significantly narrowed.

Moore leads Jones nearly 50.5 to 48.1 percent, with 76 percent of precincts reporting.

The New York Times forecasting dial still tilts in Jones’s favor, but it now gives him a 67 percent chance of winning with an estimated margin of 2.4 percentage points.

One county still hasn’t reported any results, but Dallas County is expected to go big for Jones and be an extremely small portion of the statewide vote.

Ex-Rubio aide: Early results a 'political disaster'

Update — 9:45 p.m.

Alex Conant, a former communications director for Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP lays debate trap for 2020 Democrats Mellman: Are primary debates different? Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids — Trump issues order to bring transparency to health care prices | Fight over billions in ObamaCare payments heads to Supreme Court MORE (R-Fla.), expressed shock as returns came in, saying that Moore and the GOP “could actually lose.”

“No matter what happens next, hard to overstate what a huge political disaster this is for Moore-apologists like Trump, let alone Moore-champions like Bannon,” Conant tweeted

Bannon, a former White House chief strategist and the head of Breitbart News, frequently clashed with establishment Republicans over his support for Moore over Sen. Luther StrangeLuther Johnson StrangeRoy Moore trails Republican field in Alabama The Hill's Morning Report — US strikes approved against Iran pulled back McSally on Moore running for Senate again: 'This place has enough creepy old men' MORE (Ala.) in the Republican primary.

Alabama, a deep-red state, should be an easy win for Republicans. But Moore has struggled to lock up the race, especially after sexual misconduct allegations.

Moore currently holds a slim lead over Jones with less than 50 percent of precincts reporting, although the latest wave of results have been seen as good news for Jones.

GOP strategist jokes about Moore's effect on party if he wins

Update — 9:34 p.m.

As the results come in, Republican strategist David Kochel joked that if Roy Moore wins, GOP senators will get a workout from avoiding press in the next year.

“One benefit for GOP senators if Moore wins: improved cardio and agility dodging cameras for the next 11 months,” Kochel tweeted

Kochel worked on Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign, and previously led Mitt Romney’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns in Iowa.

Both Bush and Romney have called for Moore to withdraw from the race. 

Moore holds steady lead, but NYT dial tilts toward Jones

Update — 9:25 p.m.

Moore has held a consistent lead over Jones, nearly 52 percent to 47 percent, with more than 40 percent of precincts reporting.

But while Moore holds the lead, results coming in have been filled with good news for Jones.

The New York Times election forecasting dial — made infamous on Election Day 2016 as it tilted from a Hillary Clinton win to a surprise victory for President Trump — is back. It currently gives Jones a 76 percent chance of winning, with a nearly 5-point margin of victory.

Nate Cohn, a reporter for the Times’s Upshot, explains that their model shows a turnout problem for Moore, with him falling short in three GOP counties.

 

 

Moore greets supporters 
 
Update — 9:25 p.m.
 
Moore arrived at his election watch party in Montgomery, where he briefly greeted the crowd and shook hands with some supporters. 
 
As he walked in, the crowd chanted “Judge Roy Moore," cheering for the man they hope will overcome what's become a difficult campaign and represent them in the Senate. 
 

Uptick in black voters might help Jones

Update — 9:03 p.m.
 
 
Black voters make up about a quarter of the eligible voting population, but exit polls show that they made up about 30 percent of Tuesday's electorate. Black voters overwhelmingly support Jones, so the uptick might help him in a tight race. 

Exit polls: Majority of women backed Jones

Update — 8:55 p.m.

The majority of female voters in Alabama sided with Jones on Tuesday, according to an exit poll from CNN

Roughly 57 percent of women voted for Jones, compared to 42 percent who voted for Moore. 

Moore holds a 33-point lead among white women, and an 11-point lead among white women with a college degree. Both numbers are significantly lower than the ones Mitt Romney earned in the 2012 presidential election.

Jones is winning among independent women by 20 percentage points, according to the exit poll.

Moore pulls ahead, race neck and neck

 
Update — 8:53 p.m.
 
With about 50,000 votes counted, about 5 percent of precincts are in and the margin between the candidates is shrinking. Moore has 50.4 percent of the vote to Jones's 48.4. 
 
But don't put too much stock in the early top-lines at this moment, as many uncounted votes still remain from across the state. 
 
Results in key counties are mixed. Jones is outperforming in redder counties like Houston, as well as bluer ones. But Moore gets much of his support from rural counties, which will be slower to report. 

Ex-McConnell aide taunts Bannon for "showing us how to lose"

Update at 8:44 p.m.

Josh Holmes, a former chief of staff for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPelosi: Congress will receive election security briefing in July Adam Scott calls on McConnell to take down 'Parks & Rec' gif Trump says he spoke to Pelosi, McConnell on border package MOREweighed in shortly after polls closed to thank Breitbart News chief and Moore backer Stephen Bannon “for showing us how to lose the reddest state in the union.” 

McConnell has previously called on Moore to withdraw from the race in the face of sexual misconduct allegations. He recently said Moore would likely face a Senate Ethics Committee probe if elected. As the election approached, though, McConnell toned down his criticism of Moore.

Bannon, a former White House chief strategist, campaigned for Moore dating back to his primary runoff with Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.), who was backed by McConnell. Bannon appeared with Moore on the campaign trail twice in the final week leading up to election day.

McConnell and Bannon have frequently clashed. McConnell has said Bannon and his allies are “specialists at nominating people who lose," as Bannon tries to oust Senate incumbents who support McConnell.

Bannon has reportedly asked potential GOP primary challengers to commit to voting against McConnell for leadership if elected. Bannon has vowed McConnell will not be Senate majority leader next year. 

Holmes also sarcastically thanked Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) for “the opportunity to make this national embarrassment a reality.”

Jones takes lead in first ballots

Update — 8:23 p.m.

It’s still very early in the night, but Jones is taking an early lead — 62 to 38 percent — with less than 1 percent of precincts reporting.

Jones, is so, far winning the majority of votes in four counties. It’s unsurprising that he's performing well in Greene County, an area that features a number of African-American voters. Jones will need to keep running up the score among black voters if he plans to pull off a major upset.

It’s also notable that Jones, is so, far leading in Mobile County. Trump recently held a rally in Pensacola, Fla., where he touted Moore’s candidacy. Coverage of that rally bled into the Mobile media market.

Meanwhile, Moore has a strong showing in more rural counties especially in the southern part of the state, which typically swing more for Republicans.

Voters share reasoning behind their votes

Update — 8:16 p.m.
 
There's one common thread among voters blue and red: They're excited for this race to be over. Their radios and televisions have been inundated with political advertisements and constant attention has been focused on the state from the nation. 
 
At one polling place in Dothan, a city in the southeast part of the state near where Moore held his final rally Monday night, voters gave a smattering of reasons for their decision. 
 
One Moore voter, Judy Miller, told The Hill that Moore's faith played a huge part in her decision. She typically votes Republican, but she said she was particularly taken by Moore's decision to buck federal court orders on the separation of church and state twice while serving as the chief justice of the state supreme court. 
 
“He was strong enough to stand up for what he believed and it cost him his job," she said. 
 
She added that she doesn't believe the allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against her candidate. 
 
"It's incongruous that he could stand up for the Ten Commandments and for him to do the things that it’s been reported that he’s done," she said. 
 
President Trump also resonated with some voters. Another Moore supporter, Tom Arute, said he voted for Moore because "he's a lot like Trump." 
 
But Moore did not win all of the typical Republican votes at this precinct.
 
Dennis Lyrene, who identifies as a libertarian and typically votes for the GOP, told The Hill, "I'm voting for Doug Jones because Roy Moore is a jerk." He added that he wishes there were more choices. 
 
Democrats at the polling site carried a sense of optimism. Michael Blackmon, a veteran, told The Hill that he decided to vote this year for the first time in his life in no small part because of Trump.
 
“I’ve been watching the news about what’s been going on with Roy Moore and all this mess, Trump. I ain’t with it," he said. 
 
"My vote is for Doug and against Roy Moore and the president." 
 
Polls closed

Update — 8 p.m.

The polls are now closed in Alabama.

Turnout for special elections is typically unpredictable and polls for this race have been all over the map headed into election day. As results start to roll in, here are some things to keep in mind.

For Jones, he’ll need massive turnout from black voters, who make up about a quarter of the electorate. But he’ll also need disaffected moderate GOP voters particularly in the suburbs who are willing to vote for a Democrat in light of the allegations against Moore.

Jones will also want to run up the score in the counties with major cities including Jefferson, Madison and Montgomery counties.

Moore, meanwhile, will also need to keep those moderate Republicans in his corner and do well in major cities as well as have big turnout in rural areas of the state where Republicans typically perform well.

And keep an eye on the percentage of the vote that goes to any write-in candidates.

Read more on what to watch for here.

Jones urges voters to stay in line

Update — 7:50 p.m. 

Jones urged voters to remain in line to vote, even after polls close at 7 p.m. Central Standard Time. 

Jones tweeted twice shortly before polls closed, telling followers on social media “as long as you’re in line, you can vote.”

The Trump factor

Update — 7:48 p.m.

Nearly half of Alabama voters say Trump wasn’t a factor in their vote, according to an early exit poll from NBC News.

Forty-eight percent say the president wasn’t a factor, while 29 percent say their vote was to express support for Trump and 20 percent to express opposition to him.

When voters were asked about Trump’s job performance, Alabamians were also split. Forty-eight percent approve of how he’s handling his job as president, while another 48 percent disapprove.

Abortion plays big role in race

Update — 7:35 p.m.

Abortion has been a central theme in Alabama’s Senate race.

Moore has made it a core part of his campaign messaging and has criticized Jones’s support for abortion rights.

Fifty-four percent of voters believe abortion should be illegal, compared to 40 percent who say it should be legal, according to an early exit poll from NBC News.

When breaking down Moore voters, 42 percent believe it should be illegal in all cases, while 38 percent believe abortion should be illegal in most cases.

Among the Jones voters, 23 percent believe abortion should be legal in all cases, while 41 percent say legal in most cases.

Exit polls: voters divided on Moore allegations

Update - 7:27 p.m.

Alabama voters are divided on whether or not they believe the sexual molestation allegations leveled against Roy Moore, according to an early exit poll from NBC News.

Forty-nine percent of voters believe those allegations are probably or definitely true, while 45 percent say they are probably or definitely false.

But only a small portion of the electorate — 7 percent of voters — believes it’s the most important factor in the special election. Thirty-five percent believe the allegations don't factor into the race at all.

Stakes high for GOP

Update - 7 p.m.

The stakes are high for Republicans, who are looking to hold onto their slim 52-seat majority right as they try to pass tax reform. If he wins, Moore could be faced with an investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee and the prospects of expulsion.

The winner of the race to replace Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsAttorney General Barr plays bagpipes at conference Roy Moore trails Republican field in Alabama Trump: Appointing Sessions was my biggest mistake MORE (R) will fill out the remainder of his term until January 2021.