Liberals were ready to blame Jones’s defeat on ‘suppression.’ Then black voters helped him win.
If Democrat Doug Jones had lost the Senate contest in Alabama last week to Republican Roy Moore, does anyone doubt that the state’s voter ID laws would have been blamed?
Actually, we don’t have to guess, because Election Day brought observations like this tweet from columnist Paul Krugman : “Totally unclear who will win AL. But it’s so close that if Moore does win, voter suppression will have made the difference.” The comment received more than 6,900 “likes.”
As it happens, Mr. Jones won the special election and did so with more than a little help from black voters. CNN exit polling showed that blacks were 29% of the electorate, and 96% of them went for Mr. Jones. That 29% matches Alabama’s black vote share when Barack Obama was elected in 2008 and is slightly higher than in 2012.
Ultimately, however, white Alabamians made the difference last week. Mr. Jones not only swept the black vote but vastly outperformed Mr. Obama among whites, which is why he became the first Democrat to win a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama in 25 years. Mr. Obama managed just 10% of the white vote in 2008 and 15% in 2012, and he lost the deep-red state handily both times. Mr. Jones won 30% of whites, which enabled him to pull off the upset.
Jason L. Riley is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, and a Fox News commentator.