Roy Moore refused to admit defeat in the Alabama Senate race on Tuesday night.
With 99 percent of polling places reporting, the results indicated a surprise upset win by Democrat Doug Jones, a former prosecutor who trailed by as many as double-digits just weeks earlier. Instead of conceding defeat to his opponent, Moore suggested to supporters that he would pursue a recount.
“Realize, when the vote is this close, it’s not over,” Moore claimed in a brief address at his election night rally, one intended to celebrate the conservative’s victory. “We still got to go by the rules, by this recount provision.”
He advised his base to “wait on God.”
But even despite the Republican’s protests, the curtain has just about been drawn on Moore’s lightning rod campaign.
The race was an extremely close one: Jones triumphed by just over 21,000 votes after trailing most of the evening, an election that truly came down to the wire. It was such an unpredictable nailbiter that conservative outlets like the One America News Network preemptively called the race for Moore earlier in the evening.
But that seemingly slim total may be enough to stave off a recount of ballots cast in the runoff election.
Jones’ win amounts to a 1.5 percentage point margin of victory. As Moore’s campaign manager, Bill Armistead, himself told Republican supporters on Tuesday, the two candidates would have to be separated by a margin of less than .5 percent (yes, that’s just half a percentage point) in order to trigger a recount in Alabama.
Should Moore decide to press the issue, Alabamians could wait weeks for closure in the unrelentingly contentious special election.
The ballots have to go through a process of certification, in which individual counties first verify the vote totals and then sends the results to a state canvassing board to certify for the second time. That process will likely conclude in late December.
Should the boards come to a vastly different conclusion than the totals announced Tuesday evening, a recount is possiblebut extremely unlikely.
Nearly every major news outlet has called the race for Jones, who is set to be the first Democratic Senator elected in Alabama since Richard Shelby defeated Republican challenger Richard Sellers in 1992. But Shelby, who still holds his seat in the upper chamber of Congress, switched parties two years later.
Moore looked to be a shoo-in to fill Jeff Sessions’ vacated spot in the Senate until four women came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct in a Nov. 7 report published in the Washington Post. Five more allegations would follow.
Fifty-one percent of voters who cast a ballot on Tuesday night said they believed the well-sourced claims in exit polls conducted by CNN.
Although a majority of voters claimed they already made up their minds prior to the expose’s publication, polling indicates Alabamians were listening. Pollsters found that mothers with children under the age of 18 voted for Jones by a massive 34-point margin.
Moore has continued to deny the reports, calling them “garbage” and “the definition of fake news.”
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