What To Watch, What’s At Stake : NPR

 In U.S.

Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore rides in on a horse to vote and is pictured preparing to tie it up.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images


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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore rides in on a horse to vote and is pictured preparing to tie it up.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Election Day is finally here in Alabama’s U.S. Senate race.

Voters are deciding between Democrat Doug Jones, a former prosecutor, and Roy Moore, the former state Supreme Court chief justice. Moore, popular with evangelicals in the state, has been embroiled in controversy. Multiple women have accused Moore of sexual misconduct and assault; many of them were teenagers at the time they say the misconduct took place. Moore denies any wrongdoing.


Nonetheless, Moore’s candidacy — controversial before the allegations — has driven a wedge through the GOP. Establishment Republicans are on one side, and President Trump and his former chief strategist Steve Bannon are on the other. Whatever happens on Tuesday night, there will be consequences felt from Birmingham to the Beltway.

Here’s what to watch and what the results could mean:

What time do polls close and when do we expect results?

Poll close at 8 p.m. ET. Given how close the race is expected to be, don’t expect results for a while after polls close.

Keys to the race: How many Republicans stay home?

President Trump holds a vest reading “Bikers For Trump” during a rally Friday in Pensacola, Fla. There, he gave his most full-throated endorsement of Roy Moore for Senate in Alabama yet.

Nicole Craine/Bloomberg via Getty Images


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President Trump holds a vest reading “Bikers For Trump” during a rally Friday in Pensacola, Fla. There, he gave his most full-throated endorsement of Roy Moore for Senate in Alabama yet.

Nicole Craine/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The president seems to believe Moore’s denials. Trump explicitly endorsed Moore and campaigned for him in neighboring Pensacola, Fla., which is in the Mobile, Ala., media market. But other Republicans disagree.

The state’s senior senator, Richard Shelby, for example, says that he “couldn’t vote” for Moore and wrote in another Republican. The question is how many other Republicans will also make that determination.


For Jones to win, a lot of them will have to do it. Trump won this state after all, 62 percent to 34 percent in 2016 and won more votes than any presidential candidate (a little over 1.3 million).

One liberal group is running a Facebook ad encouraging Republicans to Roll Tide and write in Nick Saban, the larger-than-life coach of the University of Alabama football team.


American Bridge 21st Century via
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Does Jones fire up black voters?

Arguably bigger than whether Republicans stay home is whether Jones can fire up black voters.

Turning out black voters is key for Democratic Senate candidate Doug Jones; African-Americans make up about 27 percent of Alabamians and about 23 percent of registered voters.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images


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Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Turning out black voters is key for Democratic Senate candidate Doug Jones; African-Americans make up about 27 percent of Alabamians and about 23 percent of registered voters.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Off-year special elections can be particularly difficult for Democrats to turn out minority and young voters. But turning out black voters is key for Jones. African-Americans make up about 27 percent of Alabamians (and about 23 percent of registered voters).

In 2008, when Barack Obama was on the ballot, black voters voted in outsize numbers, making up 29 percent of voters and leading Obama to receive the most votes for any Democratic presidential candidate in Alabama’s history (more than 813,000).

To put the significance of the black vote into perspective: Roughly 3 out of every 4 votes Obama got were from black voters.

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