The Note: Alabama Senate contest brings issues of race, gender into focus

PHOTO: The Alabama Senate race now pits Democrat Doug Jones against Republican Roy Moore.PlayAP/Getty Images
WATCH Roy Moore urges accusers to 'tell the truth' at final rally

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It's not every race where those on both sides can honestly ask: How is this thing even close?

A Democrat usually has no business challenging for a Senate seat in Alabama. Some feel this particular Republican, facing this avalanche of allegations, should arguably be nowhere near a Senate seat anywhere.

The Alabama Senate race is testing the volatile politics of race and gender. It is gauging both Steve Bannon's push for candidates bucking the GOP establishment — and Democratic rebuilding efforts.

President Donald Trump's political muscle and policy influence are on the line all at once.

This single race could help determine control of the Senate, and maybe the House as well.

Some Republican lawmakers such as Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. worry that, if elected, "Roy Moore will be the gift that keeps on giving for Democrats. It will define the 2018 election, at least 2018."

There's something even bigger going on, too: A unique confluence of timing has put this race in the middle of both the Trump presidency and the #MeToo movement.

Today's election could shed light on critical questions about where we are as a country.

But these are loud national conversations – and won't be quieted by the results in Alabama.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Doug Jones on Monday predicted victory in today's Alabama Senate race, telling reporters he was tired of questions about whether a Democrat could win in the state.

"A Democrat is going to win," he said.

While one last minute poll stood out and had Jones up this week, make no mistake: what he was forecasting would be remarkable and is quite the challenge.

There are simply a lot of Republicans in Alabama.

President Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by almost 28 points here and a lot of people in the state will tell you point-blank that they just cannot not vote for a Democrat, no matter what.

Plus, Jones has been on his own. Without any other Democrats on the ballot today, it has been up to him to try to both energize the Democratic vote and win over moderate Republicans and independents.

Playing to all sides has been hard.

Take the robocall, for example, that President Barack Obama recorded to help get voters out for Jones.

On the one hand, clearly the Jones campaign thought it could be useful in some communities, but on Monday Jones did not want to talk about it. Obama is not exactly popular in a lot of the state.

In fact, Jones praised Alabama's Republican Senator Richard Shelby more often than he mentioned the former Democratic president.

The TIP with Benjamin Siegel

Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., has written a letter to the Senate Sergeant at Arms asking if the office is "taking steps to prepare the Page Program for the possible election of Roy Moore."

"I believe my fears are well founded. We have seen Members of Congress abuse the Congressional Page Program," she wrote. "You will recall that in 2006, former Republican Representative Mark Foley resigned after sending suggestive emails and text messages to male Pages. Unfortunately, this was a contributing factor in the elimination of the House Page Program."

"We need to be vigilant stewards of these children going forward," she urged.

In his most recent interview on Sunday, Judge Roy Moore again denied the accusations made against him.

"These allegations are completely false," he said. "I did not date under-aged women, I did not molest anyone. So these allegations are false."

The Senate Sergeant at Arms office responded to Rep. Moore's letter in a statement that said the "safety and security" of pages is a "top concern."

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • President Trump will sign the National Defense Authorization Act at 12 p.m. ET and later meet with the U.S. Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty and the Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan.
  • Alabama will elect a new senator in either Judge Roy Moore or Democrat Doug Jones after polls close at 8 p.m. ET.
  • Your Voice, Your Vote: ABC News will have live coverage of the Alabama special election tonight beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET on abcnews.com, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the ABC News app.
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen will hold a press conference on efforts against MS-13 gang members and immigration priorities at 9 a.m. ET.
  • Reps. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich., Jackie Speier, D-Calif., and the Democratic Women's Working Group hold a press conference to call for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to investigate the allegations of sexual misconduct against President Donald Trump at 1 p.m. ET.
  • A House Foreign Affairs subcommittee holds a hearing on protecting North Korean refugees, and is expected to hear from two defectors at 2 p.m. ET.
  • Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivers keynote remarks at a forum on "Reimagining the United States-Republic of Korea Partnership in the Trans-Pacific Century" at 3:30 p.m. ET.
  • The United States National Chanukah Menorah, the world's largest, will be lit on the Ellipse at the White House beginning at 4 p.m. ET.
  • QUOTE OF THE DAY

    "President Trump should resign. These allegations are credible; they are numerous. I've heard these women's testimony, and many of them are heartbreaking." — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, told CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

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  • Roy Moore, Doug Jones are set to face off in Alabama Senate election. Alabama voters head to the polls today to elect a U.S. Senator in a race thrust into the national spotlight after allegations of sexual misconduct against the Republican nominee. (John Verhovek) http://abcn.ws/2jNo8qw
  • Moore tells accusers to 'tell the truth' at final rally. Roy Moore told the women accusing him of sexual misconduct to "tell the truth" as he made a final push to woo voters ahead of the state's general election on Tuesday. (Karma Allen) http://abcn.ws/2l1v6LU
  • Liberal group urges Alabama voters to write in football coaches Nick Saban, Gus Malzahn. In an attempt to capitalize on college-football-crazed Alabamians, a liberal super PAC is urging voters in the state to write in the names of the head coaches of the University of Alabama and Auburn University football teams in Tuesday's closely watched U.S. Senate special election. (John Verhovek) http://abcn.ws/2Ac5b70
  • Trump accusers call for Congress to investigate sexual harassment allegations against him. Three women who have previously accused President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct or harassment in the years prior to his election are calling for Congress to investigate the allegations against him. (Veronica Stracqualursi) http://abcn.ws/2B6wvqz
  • Judge warns Manafort: Gag order 'applies to you'. A federal judge scolded former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort Monday for his alleged role in the crafting of a recently-published opinion piece in a Ukrainian newspaper designed to burnish his image. (Trish Turner) http://abcn.ws/2AeiCn2
  • Court ruling: Transgender individuals can enlist in the military beginning Jan. 1. The Pentagon is preparing to allow transgender individuals to enlist in the U.S. military beginning Jan. 1 in compliance with a federal court ruling from two weeks ago. (Elizabeth McLaughlin) http://abcn.ws/2jP1FJE
  • Trump tells NASA to send astronauts back to the moon in new directive. As he signed a policy directive Monday intended to "refocus the space program on human exploration and discovery," President Donald Trump instructed NASA to return American astronauts to the moon, alluded to an "eventual mission to Mars" and promised to "restore American leadership in space." (Adam Kelsey) http://abcn.ws/2z1MKnc
  • Virginia warning families, pregnant women state's CHIP program may 'shut down'. Virginia is now the latest state to start informing families enrolled in the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that their coverage will be terminated unless Congress reauthorizes the popular health insurance program soon. (Meridith McGraw) http://abcn.ws/2l0CuXQ
  • Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer to release book next summer. His forthcoming book, titled "The Briefing," will focus on his "turbulent tenure" behind the lectern before resigning in July, according to the book's official description. (Tara Fowler) http://abcn.ws/2iTdTzN
  • In a new profile, the Washington Post dives into the firm behind the Trump dossier — Fusion GPS. http://wapo.st/2z260kN
  • FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver attempts to make sense of the conflicting polls on Alabama's special election: http://53eig.ht/2BTttDi
  • The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.