-- Democrats found a way to win in Trump country. And they did it against a candidate who sought to run the playbook written by President Donald Trump.
But for a night, at least, Democrats can celebrate a triumph over tribalism. The Trump resistance joined forces with the Me Too movement – with explosive political consequences, when it rallied behind Democrat Doug Jones.
The win broke an 0-for-5 streak in Trump-era special elections for seats previously held by Republicans. It’s a feat they hope to replicate many more times next year and beyond.
Jones won with strong turnout among black voters and with a sharp break in his favor among women, particularly in the suburbs.
Republicans will feel more urgency to pass tax reform before the end of the year. Democrats will pressure them to wait for Jones’ swearing in, which will likely come in early January.
Trump tweeted congratulations to Jones. But he also included a reminder of how close the race was, and how Republicans will get another shot at the seat down the line.
“The write-in votes played a very big factor, but a win is a win,” the president tweeted. “The people of Alabama are great, and the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends!”
Oddly, though, many Republicans are quietly celebrating his loss.
They won’t have to confront thorny issues of how to handle Moore both as a senator and as they prepare to defend their congressional majorities next year.
For Democrats, Jones’ win validates the “play everywhere” strategy being advocated by the DNC and other national entities. The win is likely to help recruiting efforts in other deep-red states with Senate races that – for now, at least – seem like longshots: Nebraska, Wyoming, and Mississippi – Alabama’s neighbor.
The president sought to close the Moore campaign out with the slogan that marked his rise, declaring that the voters of Alabama needed to elect Moore in order to “Make America Great Again.”
Voters in Alabama got to make their own judgment on whether Moore’s vision for American greatness was theirs as well. Democrats will have more such opportunities in the year ahead. Republican candidates won’t always make it so easy for them.