Washington, United States (ViaNews) – Despite no concession, reverberations of the 20,000-vote win of Democrat Doug Jones over Roy Moore are likely to carry over to the upcoming midterm elections.
Jones, a former prosecutor, narrowly defeated Moore, a former Alabama Supreme Court Justice, to become the first Democrat to win a U.S. Senate seat in that state in 25 years.
“We have shown the country the way that we can be unified,” Jones told a crowd of supporters Tuesday night, according to The New York Times. “This entire race has been about dignity and respect. This campaign has been about the rule of law.”
Now that one of the most public and expensive campaigns– estimates of nearly $40 million spent between both candidates – is over, what does it all mean?
One of the biggest takeaways involves the makeup of the U.S. Senate.
When Jones takes the seat – originally vacated when Jeff Sessions was confirmed as U.S. Attorney General – it will leave Republicans with a razor-thin 51-49 margin of majority. This means that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., can lose no more than two votes for any bill.
McConnell has indicated Jones will not be seated until 2018, meaning that the tax reform – which is working through conference committee – will not be impacted. However, future legislation will.
Another takeaway involves the Senate itself. With Democrats looking to take back the majority, Jones’ win on Tuesday moves them a step closer. The challenge for Democrats is they must defend more seats than Republicans while protecting 10 seats in states President Donald Trump carried during the presidential election.
But, Jones’ win gave hope to Senate Democrats.
“If we can win Alabama, we can win anywhere,” said Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., in a fundraising pitch to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, as reported by Real Clear Politics.
Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, used the win to generate support in his bid to defeat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz next year. “Tonight, the eyes of the nation were on Alabama,” O’Rourke wrote to supporters. “Tomorrow, Texas and 2018.”
“Until now, it’s not really mathematically possible for Democrats to compete for the majority in the Senate, Jennifer Duffy of the Cook Political Report told Politico. “For the first time all cycle, it’s not out of the question.”
The loss in Alabama likely means battle lines within the Republican Party will deepen between McConnell and former White House adviser Steve Bannon. Steven Law, head of the super PAC Senate Leadership Fund – which is tied to McConnell – told Real Clear Politics: “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.”
Trump is another potential victim of Moore’s loss. Late Monday night, Trump tweeted his congratulations to Jones:
Congratulations to Doug Jones on a hard fought victory. The write-in votes played a very big factor, but a win is a win. The people of Alabama are great, and the Republicans will have another shot at this seat in a very short period of time. It never ends!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2017
This came after Trump see-sawed his support for Moore. He, along with the Republican National Committee, came to support Moore late in the race amid accusations of sexual assault and molestation were leveled at Moore.
Now, with a weakened Senate majority and a loss in a state he won by 28 points over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, the Trump agenda may face a credibility blow as it is the second losing candidate Trump supported in the Alabama election after incumbent Sen. Luther Strange was defeated by Moore in the Republican primary.
Coupled with Democrat Ralph Northam’s defeat of Trump-backed Republican Edward Gillespie in the Virginia gubernatorial election in November, it leaves a string of defeats for the president.
Another question Democrats and Republicans will take with them following the Alabama election is just how much will this impact the 2018 midterms?
Trump supporters have begun to lay the Moore’s defeat on Moore himself and that the election does not bear relevance to the job Trump is doing in the White House.
“Donald Trump tried to rescue a campaign that was doomed,” said former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, a CNN commentator, on CNN.com.
Other Republicans suggested the loss be a “wake-up call” to Republicans running in 2018.
“It’s bad for the GOP writ large but due to the unique nature of Moore’s problems, it is unclear if it’s just bad or if we are looking at a tsunami in 2018,” said Mark Harris, a Republican strategist to Politico.