Doug Jones couldn’t have won in Alabama without black voters. National and local Democratic groups knew that — and spent millions trying to turn those voters out.
And even though the Alabama race may be an outlier, some of those groups now hope that the victory is a blueprint for the party in the South — where a few thousand votes could make a huge difference — as they try to pick up more House seats and governor’s mansions.
In the weeks before Jones’ victory, there were preemptive concerns that Democrats had not done enough to turn out black voters, some of whom were, at best, unenthused about Jones. Those worries proved unfounded: While some white rural and suburban voters stayed home with the infamous Roy Moore on the ballot, black people in Alabama punched above their weight — comprising 29% of voters in the election despite only accounting for around 27% of the state’s population, according to exit poll data. Black women, in particular, voted for Jones in near solidarity at 98%.
An array of Democratic groups poured money and time into Alabama: the NAACP, the Democratic National Committee, Priorities USA Action, and newer groups like BlackPAC (which, along with its coordinated arm, spent more than $2.1 million in the state). BlackPAC also knocked on nearly 500,000 doors and spoke with more than 120,000 people about issues surrounding the election, Executive Director Adrianne Shropshire told BuzzFeed News.
The organization also partnered with groups organizing in black churches and engaging millennial black voters.
Shropshire believes that to win in the South, Democrats need to up their game of engaging black voters. “We know that there are real opportunities for progressives to win in the south and we know that there are opportunities coming up. Whether it’s Stacey Abrams in Georgia or Andrew Gillum in Florida there are opportunities to support progressive candidates,” Shropshire said, referring to the competitive governors’ races in Georgia and Florida.