The huge turnout of Black voters in Alabama was an important factor Tuesday in Doug Jones’ election as the state’s first Democratic senator in 25 years, the NAACP said.
“The African-American community played a major role in this most-crucial special election,” said Derrick Johnson, NAACP president and CEO. “Our vote is reflective of the values of a nation refusing to exchange its integrity and character for the sake of selfish partisan politics. As a native Alabamian said, Black folks saved the soul of Alabama. This vote shows that unifying interracial politics, coalition-building and inspirational rhetoric can win in the South.”
In winning the election, Jones garnered 49.9 percent of the vote compared to 48.4 percent for Republican challenger Roy Moore, whose campaign was hampered by numerous accusations of sexual assault and harassment. The win was largely aided by the Black voter bloc, which accounted for three in 10 voters in the state and supported Jones despite many Blacks saying they felt slighted by his campaign.
The Alabama State Conference and Branches, working with the NAACP’s national office and partners across the nation, made more than 40,000 calls to registered voters throughout the state and persuaded them to exercise their right to vote. The conference and its partners also conducted an unprecedented texting campaign that reached nearly 160,000 African-Americans and women throughout the state. More than 90 percent of the voters reached – including a large number of older African-Americans — told the NAACP that they would go to the polls and vote.
In addition, many of the African-Americans who voted in the special election supported Jones after being energized by the efforts of Democratic party campaigners that included former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and former NBA star Charles Barkley.
“We knew it would be a hard fight to mobilize voters, but we also had an idea of the consequences if the Black vote in Alabama stayed silent,” said Benard Simelton, president NAACP’s Alabama State Conference. “Those of us who know the history of Alabama with its Jim Crow and segregationist attitude, understand the importance of the vote and why not only have we got to ensure that we use it, but that we continue to protect it from any attempts at suppression.”