As we know, Alabama voters went to the polls on Tuesday to elect Democrat Doug Jones in the special US Senate race. Though several columnists are attempting to make this race a referendum on President Trump and the Republicans’ ability to hold the US House next year, the actual numbers, when comparing with past voting history, tend to show Republican defection to Mr. Jones as the principle reason for the win and not a massive increase in Democratic turnout.
Special election voter participation exceeded the last midterm turnout level by 13.9% when compared to the 2014 election. In the 13 base Democratic counties where the electorate favored gubernatorial challenger Parker Griffith over Republican incumbent Robert Bentley despite the latter man’s landslide statewide total, 2017 major party turnout was up 11.3%. But, this is 2½ points below the increased statewide turnout rate.
Additionally, in the four statewide races in the 2014 and ’16 elections, contested Republican candidates all recorded between 62-64% of the statewide vote. This contrasts with Republican nominee (Roy) Moore’s 48.4%, again suggesting that Republican defection to Jones is likely the more salient reason to best explain the Democratic victory.
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