Democrat Doug Jones Wins Alabama Senate Race

Update | 10:28 p.m. ET – The Associated Press has now called the race for Democrat Doug Jones.

Update | 10:27 p.m. ET – Fox News has now called the race for Doug Jones, which would make him the first Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate from Alabama in a quarter of a century. There's still 10 percent of the vote to be counted but it's hard to see any way back for Roy Moore, handing a stunning defeat to Republicans and President Donald Trump.

Update | 10:11 p.m. ET – The race is now tightening dramatically with almost 80 percent of the vote in. Doug Jones now trails Roy Moore by only just over one percent, 49.9 percent to 48.6 percent. And there are still plenty of votes to be counted in Jefferson County, where Jones leads by almost 60 points.

Update | 10:05 p.m. ET – Those early exit poll predictions about the strength of the black vote appear to have been accurate and that's very good news for Doug Jones' hopes of claiming the Alabama Senate seat. Indeed, the heavily black counties in the state have turned out at a much higher percentage than rural white counties, as reported by Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report.

Jones made getting out the black vote the primary focus of the final days of his campaign, calling upon Civil Rights leaders like John Lewis and featuring a robocall from President Barack Obama.

Update | 9:59 p.m. ET – With more than two-thirds of the vote in Alabama counted, Roy Moore still leads, but his margin is narrowing as the vote-counting starts to pick up pace in the most densely populated counties. Doug Jones' campaign chairman Giles Perkins has said that "we feel great," and that optimism continues to be backed up by The New York Times election predictor, which gives the Democrat 63 percent chance of claiming the Senate seat.

Update | 9:45 p.m. ET – Doug Jones still has a path to victory with more than 50 percent of the vote still to be counted in Jefferson County and just a small fraction of the vote in in Birmingham, both of which the Democrat is carrying by a large margin. There are signs, too, that Roy Moore is performing worse than he did in his 2012 election for Alabama chief justice, which he won by just two points.

Still,with 65 percent of the precincts now reporting, Republican Moore has an eight-point advantage.

Update | 9:27 p.m. ET – More than a third of the vote in Alabama is now in and the Roy Moore camp is giving off a confident tone. "We smell victory," Moore strategist Dean Young told ABC. "All hell came against Judge Moore."

Moore has a lead of around four points, but there is a still a huge number of votes to be counted in the most populous counties, where Jones is running with a huge advantage. The New York Times is currently giving Jones a 74 percent chance of winning, which is causing some guffaws on social media, with many pointing out the same forecast model's failure in the 2016 presidential election.

Update | 9:15 p.m. ET – More than an hour after the polls closed in Alabama, the votes are starting to pour in quickly. Republican Roy Moore still maintains an early lead, now up to eight percent with just over 20 percent of the votes counted. There is still plenty of hope for Doug Jones, though. The Democrat has a huge lead in the state's largest county, Jefferson County, which has still only reported 15 percent of its vote.

Update | 9:05 p.m. ET – With 13 percent of the vote in the Alabama Senate race counted, Roy Moore has a narrow lead over Democratic opponent Doug Jones. Moore has 50.8 percent of the vote, with Jones trailing back on 47.9 percent.

There remains a long way to go, however, and the prayers of the Roy Moore campaign have not been answered yet.

Update | 8:17 p.m. ET – As the results of the Alabama Senate election begin trickling in, Doug Jones is currently leading Roy Moore. But, with just a few hundred votes counted, it is far too early to take anything of significance from the data.

There is some more potentially noteworthy exit poll data, however. Of those who voted Tuesday, 30 percent were black, according to a CNN exit poll. If that holds, it will be a major boost to Jones, who has put a keen focus on getting out the black vote in the closing stages of the campaign. Among the black vote, 95 percent went for Jones.

As for the gender breakdown, 57 percent of men responded that they voted for Moore, with the same percentage of women stating that they cast their ballot for Jones.

Update | 8:00 p.m. ET – The polls have closed in Alabama's contentious and all-important special Senate election, with the race, unsurprisingly, currently rated as being too close to call.

The Jones campaign, which is counting on high turnout from those who may not traditionally vote in off-year elections, has sent out a message urging those already in line to vote to stay where they are until they cast their ballot.

Update | 7:50 p.m. ET – Just 10 minutes before voting will come to a close in Alabama's Senate race and more exit poll data offers encouragement to Republican Roy Moore. Sixty percent of respondents to a CBS exit poll said they made their decision on whether to vote for Moore or his Democratic opponent Doug Jones prior to November. It was in November that the series of allegations of sexual misconduct involving teenage girls first emerged against Moore.

Jones voters feel more passionately about their candidate, however. Around eight in 10 Jones voters said they strongly favor him, compared to just over 50 percent of Moore voters who said the same about the controversial former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

Update | 7:30 p.m. ET – If Roy Moore claims victory over Doug Jones, an already contentious and prolonged process to fill the Alabama Senate seat vacated by now Attorney General Jeff Sessions will be far from over. Republican senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have said that Moore will face an ethics committee investigation over the series of allegations that he preyed on teenage girls when he was in his 30s.

And the process could start immediately. The No. 2 Senate Republican John Cornyn said Tuesday that Senate Republicans will discuss what happens next with Moore at a closed-door caucus meeting on Wednesday morning.

"I think that's part of the discussion, yes," Cornyn told The Hill.

Update | 7:12 p.m. ET – Voting in Alabama's Senate election will close in just under an hour's time. Opinion polls have swung wildly following a series of allegations of sexual misconduct against Republican Roy Moore, although an average of polls has shown the embattled candidate still with a narrow lead over Democrat Doug Jones. Alabama has not elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in 25 years.

With a tight race, it could take several hours for the final results to be known, especially if turnout exceeds expectations of 25 percent. There will be much focus on those numbers, with Jones hoping for high turnout among black voters and in urban areas. Moore's chances on holding on to what prior to a few weeks ago was seen as a reliable Republican seat will rest on getting voters out in rural areas and mobilizing those who went heavily for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

Update | 6:54 p.m. ET – One factor that has made the Alabama Senate race so difficult to call is the possibility for a high number of write-in votes. For many in Alabama, the choice between a controversial Republican accused by multiple women of preying on them as teenagers and a Democrat could push them toward writing in their own option.

There is one major write-in candidate in the form of Lee Busby, a former top aide to current White House chief of staff John Kelly, who has polled at 5 percent in the lead-up to the election.

But it may not just be the name of Busby finding its way onto ballots. A liberal super PAC has released an ad instructing voters to write in the name of famed University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban. Republican Senator from Alabama Richard Shelby has said he will be one of those opting to vote for a write-in candidate other than the two options presented to him.

Update | 6:34 p.m. ET – The polls close in Alabama's fiercely contested Senate election at 7 p.m. local time (8 p.m. ET), with polls indicating a close race between embattled Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones. Early exit poll data has offered mixed signals for the two candidates.

Providing encouragement to Moore, 55 percent of voters responding to a CNN exit poll said that the string of allegations that he preyed on teenage girls when he was in his 30s were not an important factor in their vote. More voters also said that they cast their vote in support of President Donald Trump, who has enthusiastically endorsed Moore, than those who said they did it to oppose the Republican president.

One note of optimism for Jones comes from further exit poll data from CNN showing that 30 percent of the voters were black. That would exceed the expectations of the Jones camp, which has put a keen focus on getting out the black vote in the final days of the campaign.

Original Story

All eyes will be on Alabama Tuesday night as one of the most eagerly watched Senate races in recent memory concludes with either controversy-laden Republican Roy Moore or previously unheralded Democrat Doug Jones being elected to the United States Senate. Following a string of allegations that Moore preyed on, and in at least two cases initiated sexual contact with, teenage girls when he was in his 30s, what appeared a safe seat for Republicans has become a race that has kept even the most experienced pollsters guessing.

Related: If Roy Moore Wins Election in Alabama Over Doug Jones, What Happens Next?

No Democrat has been elected to the United States Senate from Alabama in a quarter of a century, but Jones is in the running to break that stranglehold Tuesday in large part thanks to the controversy that has engulfed his opponent. Already, Moore, who upset establishment favorite Luther Strange in the Republican primary, was weighed down by heavy baggage. The 70-year-old was twice forced from his position as chief justice on the Alabama Supreme Court, first for refusing to remove a monument of the 10 Commandments and then instructing judges not to enforce a law allowing same-sex marriages.

His controversial comments over the years have frequently resurfaced, including his statements that homosexuality should be illegal, that Muslims were unable to serve in Congress and that the last time America was great was during the slavery era.

But it is the allegations made against him by nine women that have dominated the campaign. The most serious allegation came from Beverly Young Nelson that he attempted to rape her when she was aged 16. Another woman, Leigh Corfman, alleged to The Washington Post that Moore initiated sexual contact with her when she was just 14.

The allegations have led to several leading Republicans distancing themselves from Moore, although Trump has given him a resounding endorsement.

Since the allegations, Moore has been little seen on the campaign trail, in contrast to his opponent. Jones, a former prosecutor, is best known for convicting two members of the Ku Klux Klan for their part in the 1963 Birmingham Church bombing that killed four black girls.

With that history in the civil rights movement, Jones has unsurprisingly made attracting the black vote the focus of the final stretch of his campaign. He faces an uphill task, however, with it widely perceived that he needs a level of black turnout not witnessed in Alabama since President Barack Obama's election in 2008.

Check back here for live updates as the polls close and the results start to pour in from Alabama.