Doug Jones flips county named after Robert E. Lee for first time since Civil Rights era
Democrat Doug Jones defied all expectations to win in Alabama after voters rejected bigoted theocrat and accused pedophile Roy Moore. One county in particular stands out as a revealing example of how Jones pulled off his victory — and how Democrats can replicate it in other deep red states. For decades, Lee County has been […]
One county in particular stands out as a revealing example of how Jones pulled off his victory — and how Democrats can replicate it in other deep red states.
For decades, Lee County has been as reliably Republican as they come. Its name is derived from Robert E. Lee, the general who commanded the Confederate armies in defense of slavery. No Democratic presidential candidate has earned more than 45 percent of the vote there since the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Trump carried the county by 24 points.
And yet on Tuesday night, Lee County voted for Jones by 17 points — a whopping 41 point swing toward Democrats.
There are some key facts that Democrats should take away from this.
First, Lee County borders the Alabama “Black Belt” — a horizontal line of counties across the state that, due to its particularly fertile soil, was the state’s epicenter of slavery in Antebellum, and therefore today has a high concentration of black voters. Lee County, though not considered part of the Black Belt, still has a higher black population than the national average, and all reports show black turnout there on Tuesday was massive. This occurred all over Alabama, despite widespread voter suppression tactics.
Second, the county is one of six that are responsible for almost all of Alabama’s population growth since 2010. That implies that the once-rural county is suburbanizing, and one other huge, nationwide trend under Trump is the bleeding out of suburban, college-educated white voters from the GOP coalition, especially women.
Although 57 percent of white college-educated women still voted for Moore, that actually represents a steep drop-off of GOP support in a state where there are twice as many registered Republicans as Democrats.
The future of the Democratic Party lies in energizing and protecting the franchise of the minority base, and in pulling women and educated suburban voters away from the Republican coalition. In Alabama, and in Lee County, these two factors drove Doug Jones to victory, and it will be repeated across the nation.
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