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Live blog: Doug Jones beats Roy Moore in Alabama Senate race

In a stunning upset over Republican Roy Moore, Democrat Doug Jones is the projected winner in Tuesday's Alabama Senate race, according to an NBC News projection.
Image: Alabama election
Candidates Roy Moore, left, and Doug Jones on election day in Alabama.AP; Getty Images

In a stunning upset over Republican Roy Moore, Democrat Doug Jones is the projected winner in Tuesday's Alabama Senate race, according to an NBC News projection. Here's how the big night unfolded.

That's a wrap. Here are the highlights from Election Night.

NBC News projected Doug Jones the apparent winner of an extraordinary election that resulted in Alabama voters sending a Democrat to the Senate for the first time since 1992. Thanks for sticking with us.

Here are the highlights from Election Night:

  • Democrat Doug Jones stunned the political world by defeating Republican Roy Moore in a contentious race that was flipped on its head after decades-old allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against Moore. African-Americans, women and moderates helped fuel Jones' win with stronger than expected turnout.  
  • Moore has refused to concede, however, and told supporters the race is not over in a speech late Tuesday. The Alabama Republican Party has acknowledged Jones as the winner and said in a statement "we respect the voting process."
  • Republican finger pointing began immediately after the results became clear. 
  • For the second time in as many months, Democrats were energized by important electoral victories they painted as a rebuke of Republicans and President Donald Trump. Last month, Democrat Ralph Northam won a hotly contested governor's race in Virginia.
  • Jones' apparent victory is the second loss for Trump in the Alabama race. The candidate he endorsed ahead of the GOP primary, Sen. Luther Strange, fell to Moore in September. He then endorsed Moore in the final weeks of the general election.

Thousands of write-in votes to be counted next week

The large number of write-in votes in Tuesday night’s race — 22,780, according to the Alabama Secretary of State’s office — may have helped propel Doug Jones to victory.

Those ballots, however, won’t be counted until next Tuesday, leaving watchers of the tight Alabama race to wonder exactly how many votes prominent write-in candidates, including incumbent Sen. Luther Strange and Lee Busby, a retired Marine colonel, received.

Counting those write-ins, however, could also reveal additional votes for either Jones or Moore, which could, in theory, trigger a recount.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday night, Jones had 673,236 votes, while Moore had 652,300 — a difference of 20,936. That number is less than the 22,780 write-in votes, meaning, theoretically, that Moore could have appeared as a write-in candidate on enough ballots to win.

Under Alabama election laws, a recount is required if the margin of victory is within 0.5 percent.

After refusing to concede, Moore has not called Jones

Roy Moore has not called Doug Jones to congratulate him on his apparent win or concede the race, a senior Jones campaign official confirms to NBC News.

Moore insisted Tuesday night that the race is too close to call and told supporters they are investigating the process for a recount.

With 99 percent of the vote in, Jones was leading 50-48 percent, or 673,236 votes to 652,300 votes — a margin of more than 20,000. The current margin appears too great for an automatic recount, which is triggered if the candidates are separated by less than half a percentage point, but Moore could call for a recount if he's willing to pay for one himself.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill told CNN that it is “highly unlikely” the outcome of the race will change.

"There's not a whole lot of errors that occur," he said.

Meanwhile, the Alabama GOP released a statement acknowledging Jones' apparent win, saying that “while we are deeply disappointed...we respect the voting process given to us by our Founding Fathers."

Jones vows unity, progress in victory speech

An ebullient Doug Jones vowed to build bipartisan bridges in Washington and Alabama alike in his victory night speech Tuesday night, speaking to a crowd that could hardly contain their enthusiasm long enough to let him speak.

“I have always believed that the people of Alabama have more in common than divides us," Jones said. “We have shown the country the way that we can be unified.”

He thanked volunteers and praised their efforts to get out the vote — including 300,000 door knocks and 1.2 million phone calls — and particularly thanked minority voters who came out in historic numbers to support his candidacy.

Jones challenged his Washington colleagues to take his election as a sign that voters want progress, not politics. He did not speak about the sexual misconduct allegations that dogged opponent Roy Moore, or Moore's extreme views on gay Americans, slavery, and Muslims.

Instead, he argued his victory was one for justice and morality.

“At the end of the day, this entire race has been about dignity and respect. This campaign has been about the rule of law," he said. "This campaign has been about common courtesy and decency and making sure everyone in this state, regardless of which zip code you live in, is gonna get a fair shake in life."

GOP finger-pointing begins moments after Jones' apparent win

The Republican finger-pointing began just moments after it appeared Democrat Doug Jones had defeated Republican Roy Moore.

“Not only did Steve Bannon cost us a critical Senate seat in one of the most Republican states in the country, but he also dragged the President of the United States into his fiasco,” the Mitch McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund said in a statement.

Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, railed against McConnell and establishment Republicans while helping push Moore’s controversial candidacy. Trump had endorsed Moore’s Republican primary opponent, Sen. Luther Strange, but supported Moore ahead of Tuesday’s general election despite multiple allegations against Moore of sexual misconduct.

 

NBC News: Doug Jones is apparent winner in Alabama

Doug Jones is the apparent winner in the Alabama Senate race, according to the NBC News Decision Desk, beating out Republican Roy Moore in a stunning upset.

He is the first Democrat to win a Senate seat in deep-red Alabama in decades, pulling out a stunning but slim victory in a race most believed was decided by the Republican primary six weeks ago.

Jones was catapulted into a surprisingly competitive race after Moore was accused of sexual misconduct by nine women. He campaigned heavily in the final weeks of the election — particularly appealing to black voters whose historic turnout helped boost his campaign to a win — while Moore shunned the spotlight in an attempt to weather the accusations. 

Bannon to speak at Moore's election night rally

Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump's former chief strategist and a key booster of Roy Moore's insurgent candidacy, will speak at the Republican's election night rally, a Moore campaign official told NBC News. 

Bannon endorsed Moore during his GOP primary run against Sen. Luther Strange, who was appointed to fill the vacancy left when Jeff Sessions became attorney general. It pitted Bannon against Trump, who campaigned for Strange ahead of the September primary. 

Bannon continued to back Moore after media reports of Moore's sexual misconduct, framing the allegations as a conspiracy to defeat the conservative. At an election-eve rally Monday, Bannon said there is a "special place in hell" for Republicans who don't support Moore. 

Polls close in Alabama with race too early to call

Polls are now closed in Alabama where the contentious Senate race between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones is too early to call, according to the NBC News Decision Desk. 

Both campaigns expressed optimism throughout the day as the unexpectedly competitive race reached its conclusion.

Moore is holding his election night party in Montgomery, and Jones is in Birmingham. 

Moore’s campaign bars Washington Post reporters from event

Roy Moore campaign refused to admit reporters from The Washington Post to an election night event, the paper said Tuesday night. 

“We were denied credentials and when our reporters asked to enter they were told no,” a spokesman told NBC News.

The Washington Post first reported the allegations that Roy Moore pursued teenage girls when he was in his 30s, and initiated a sexual encounter with a girl who was 14 at the time. The Republican candidate has said the allegations, which grew after the initial Washington Post story to include a total of nine women, are all false. 

Moore has threatened to sue the paper for its reporting.

GOP senators will meet tomorrow if Moore wins

If Roy Moore wins Tuesday, Senate Republicans will meet as a conference Wednesday morning to discuss next steps, multiple Republican Senate sources told NBC News.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and other GOP lawmakers have previously said that Moore would face an almost immediate ethics probe. Republican senators will also have to decide whether to include him in policy discussions as well as whether to seat him on any committees. 

The meeting, currently slated for 10 a.m., will likely focus on messaging: How the party handles the election of a senator facing multiple allegations of sexual misconduct involving teenage girls decades ago.

Alabama Democrat says 'broken' state party created hurdle for Jones

Alabama’s "broken" Democratic Party was a major hurdle Doug Jones' campaign struggled to overcome, a Democratic state legislator said in an interview Tuesday.

“We have people who would rather vote for a pedophile than a Democrat,” Rep. Patricia Todd, the state’s only openly gay legislator, said on “Meet The Press Daily.”

“Our state party structure is broken, we really don't have an active party,” Todd added. “And that's been hard on this campaign.” Jones' field operation, which the state party would normally have an active role in organizing, fell entirely to Jones' campaign, Todd said. 

 

From abortion to the economy, where do Moore and Jones stand?

The race may have been overshadowed by the scandal dogging Moore's campaign, but policies still matter to voters. 

From Roy Moore's anti-abortion poem to Doug Jones' stance on global warming (he wants you to know he believes in science), find out where the candidates stand on the decisive issues like the economy, abortion, health care and more.

Read the full story here.

 

DHS official: No signs of hacking or interference

Department of Homeland Security personnel are working "side-by-side" with state election officials in Montgomery, Alabama to ensure protection of the voting process, the department told reporters Tuesday. 

Christopher Krebs, a Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for the National Protection and Programs Directorate, said that while states are ultimately responsible for securing their elections, DHS provides services such as "cyber hygiene scans" on a voluntary basis to ensure there is no effort to hack into voter databases or manipulate votes.

Krebs said his division has been in contact with Alabama state election officials in the weeks leading up to the election and so far they have no indications of successful efforts to interfere.

Alabama was one of 21 states targeted by hackers in the 2016 election.

What to watch for tonight when polls close

Thanks for joining us tonight.

NBC News' Jonathan Allen, reporting from Alabama, broke down which counties he’ll be watching as tonight’s returns come in after polls close at 7 p.m. local time (8 p.m. ET).

First up: We'll be keeping a close eye on Talladega County: It's Alabama’s bellwether.

If Moore wins here, even by a small yet comfortable margin, that would suggest that Republicans across the state haven't abandoned him enough to cost him the election. On the other hand, if Jones is running even with Moore or ahead of him in Talladega, that would likely indicate a good night for the Democrats.

Read the full story here.