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Late Tuesday night, Democrat Doug Jones won Alabama’s special election for the Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, making him the state’s first Democratic senator elected since 1992.
Jones defeated Republican opponent Judge Roy Moore by a margin of 1.5 percent, an improbable victory in a largely Republican state that may not have happened had it not been for weeks of revelations and accusations that Moore had romantically pursued and/or sexually assaulted women when they were minors and he was in his 30s.
However, exit polls show that Jones would not have been able to deliver such a defeat had it not been for Alabama’s Black voters—Black female voters, specifically—who voted overwhelmingly in favor of Moore.
According to exit polls, 96 percent of Black voters, who make up 29 percent of all voters, backed Jones, while 68 percent of white voters, who make up 66 percent of voters, stood with Moore. Breaking the statistics down further by gender, Black women (17 percent of voters) sided overwhelmingly for Jones, with 98 percent of their vote in favor of the Democrat, while 93 percent of Black men (11 percent of voters) did the same.
Looking at white voters, 72 percent of white men (35 percent of voters) voted for Moore, while 63 percent of white women (31 percent of voters) followed suit.
Even prior to the election, polls showed that Alabama’s Republican voters weren’t going to be swayed by the sexual impropriety allegations against Moore. According to a CBS News poll from early December, 71 percent of the state’s GOP voters said they thought all accusations against Moore were false, while 17 percent believed the women. Exit polls grew more polarized on this sentiment, with 94 percent of Moore voters believing the allegations against their candidate are false, while 89 percent of Jones’ voters believed them to be true.
The effort led by Black voters to deny Moore the Senate seat didn’t go unnoticed across Twitter, with activists and critics alike pointing out that Black voters deserved praise for Jones’ win. Many advocated for white people to not just be aware of who turned out the vote, but also to support Black candidates, businesses, and institutions that are often overlooked.
black women really are holding this sorry ass country together— Aminatou Sow (@aminatou) December 13, 2017
Let’s make sure we don’t generalize our gratitude or obscure our shame. pic.twitter.com/58a4YlxBMP— Robin DeRosa (@actualham) December 13, 2017
Like I don't think people get that Black women don't turn out because of some maternal instinct to save everyone. We get usually hit first and worst by oppressive policies so we are saving ourselves. You just benefit.— Keidra @ Mastodon (@kdc) December 13, 2017
If you’re going to say that the black vote can determine the outcome of a national election, then they should entitled to something worth of that influence!— Phillip Henry (@MajorPhilebrity) December 13, 2017
Here's a headline: Black women and men overcame voter suppression in Alabama— David Cazares (@dpcazares) December 13, 2017
Y’all expect black people to save you all the time and we can’t even get a Storm movie fuck yall— Ira Madison III (@ira) December 13, 2017
The real tea is Black women saved themselves not y’all. pic.twitter.com/kuQdTsPHEx— Raquel Willis (@RaquelWillis_) December 13, 2017
Black women carry this nation on their backs.— Lydia Polgreen (@lpolgreen) December 13, 2017
Dear Fellow White Women Dems:— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) December 13, 2017
Don't simply thank black women.
Listen to black women, hire black women, pay black women fairly, encourage black women, support black women, follow black women - be enthusiastically led by black women - and, for the love, ELECT black women #alsenate
Meanwhile, Moore called for a recount, saying, “When the vote is this close…it’s not over.”
Samantha Grasso is a former IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.