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What Black Voters Did in Alabama Race Just Saved America From Roy Moore

Black voters, and black women in particular, came out in numbers higher than when President Obama was on the ballot to propel Democrat Doug Jones to an unlikely historic win in Alabama Tuesday.

While turnout in white rural areas backing Roy Moore was down, which was not surprising given that he was accused of being a serial child predator, turnout in the state’s heavily black areas was staggering.

Heavily black counties saw around 72-77 percent of the turnout they saw in the 2016 election, a shocking number of a special Senate election. Rural white counties, meanwhile, had just 55-60 percent turnout they saw in 2016, according to the Cook Political Report.

In one county, 40-percent black Russell County, Jones beat Moore by 14 points, according to the New York Times.

Exit polls showed black voters made up 30 percent of the turnout on Tuesday, even slightly higher than the percentages who showed up to vote in the 2012 presidential race when President Obama was on the ballot. According to the exit polls, black women accounted for 18 percent of the voters on Tuesday. That group voted for Jones by a mind-blowing margin of 97-3.

Thanks to black voters, Jones won a seat that now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions won in 2014 with 97 percent of the vote.

Jones’ unlikely win could become a blueprint for Democrats seeking to win back majorities in both chambers of Congress, as well as numerous state legislatures next year.

Jones, a former federal prosecutor who prosecuted the Ku Klux Klan for a Birmingham church bombing that killed four black girls, was flanked by high-profile black lawmakers like New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Georgia Rep. John Lewis in the final days of the campaign.

Even with higher-than-usual turnout, black voters were faced with a number of voter-suppression tactics that have been insidious in the South.

According to ThinkProgress, many black voters were listed as “inactive” and could only cast provisional ballots.

“It’s not that we’re not showing up to vote — we’re being suppressed,” Dechauna Jiles told ThinkProgress on Election Day. “[Roy Moore, the Republican nominee] is going to win, not because our people didn’t speak, but because our vote was suppressed.”

But by the time the results came in, the mood had changed dramatically.

“You are seeing right now history in the state of Alabama. Alabama is a state of wonderful people,” Jones campaign volunteer Blair Liggins told ThinkProgress. “Everyone automatically thinks that with a Democratic candidate that you’re just going to get the African American vote, and I really believe that Doug Jones did not just take that for granted.”

Shortly after Jones was declared the apparent winner, the hashtag #BlackWomen trended on Twitter.

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