Democrat Doug Jones' win over Republican Roy Moore in Alabama's special election Senate race on Tuesday was a welcome surprise for many. A Democrat hadn't won a Senate seat in the Yellowhammer State since Richard Shelby's 1992 victory. But Jones did win, and celebrities reacted with shock, joy, and often a redoubled determination to repeat Alabama's upset elsewhere.
Many celebrities favored Jones over Moore, a preference that went beyond the stereotype of "liberal Hollywood." Moore has been accused by eight women of sexual harassment, assault, or misconduct; one woman even alleged he had initiated sexual contact with her when she was just 14 years old. Six of the women were younger than 18 at the time of the alleged incidents. (Moore has vehemently denied all of these allegations.)
And it's no secret that fellow Republican President Trump is not the most popular person in celebrity circles. Besides the multiple allegations of sexual harassment and assault that have also been leveled at him (all of which he denies), Trump's policies are also a problem for many celebrities. The travel ban, exiting the Paris Climate Accord, attempts to repeal Obamacare, tax cuts for corporations — these are non-starters for plenty of Tinseltown's stars.
So for many celebrities, Jones' win was cause for celebration. Plenty also expressed gratitude to black voters who showed up to vote and overwhelmingly supported Jones.
Black voters played a crucial role in ensuring a Jones victory. While turnout in rural, heavily white areas was disappointing for Moore, the "black belt" of Alabama — part of a much larger crescent-shaped area spanning from Texas to Maryland — saw higher turnout than expected. As Van R. Newkirk III notes at The Atlantic, counties with largely black populations showed up at the polls in stunning numbers for a special election. Consider this: the 80 percent black population of Greene County hit 78 percent of its 2016 election turnout, which is virtually unheard of for a special election.
Many celebrities were quick to point out the indispensable role of Alabama's black voters in sending Jones to the Senate.
Others took direct aim at Trump. The president originally endorsed Moore's primary opponent, Luther Strange. But after Moore won the Republican nomination, Trump got on board with the twice-sanctioned former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama. Against the advice of his aides, and without the backup of establishment Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Trump embraced Moore with open arms, even after the allegations of sexual misconduct came out against Moore.
When asked about his support despite the deeply troubling allegations, Trump responded that Moore denied all the claims against him and said, "You have to listen to him, also." Trump went on to record a robocall for Moore's campaign.
Thus, for several celebrities, Jones' victory represented a meaningful upset for Trump — and a welcome one.
The race between Jones and Moore had pollsters cautious about predicting a winner. There were several conflicting polls released in the days prior to the election, and after the 2016 presidential election, plenty of pollsters feel less inclined to make unequivocal judgments before the votes are actually cast.
So that had election watchers the world over (yes, Alabama's race to the Senate garnered international attention) anxious and uncertain going into Tuesday. Given the history of deep-red Alabama, the fact the race was even close would be shocking in a normal context. But with the nature of allegations against Moore, and his history of flouting the law he'd sworn to uphold as a judge, there were many who believed Jones could pull off a win.
And it turned out, they were right. And that had many celebrities celebrating on Tuesday night.