When Donald Trump tapped Jeff Sessions to become attorney general and vacate his Senate seat, few people could imagine that any Democrat could win in a statewide race in Alabama. But Doug Jones is not any Democrat.
Doug is an Alabama native who, as a federal prosecutor, convicted the Ku Klux Klan members responsible for the notorious 16th Street Baptist Church bombing that killed four little girls in 1963. Conversely, Roy Moore had a record that was the antithesis of Doug Jones, particularly among African American voters.
We designed a mail program that first introduced Doug and his economic message to African-Americans. After introducing Doug we began showing voters what we knew, from our focus group research, worked best to motivate them. While Moore’s sexual transgressions dominated the news, we found that educating voters about Moore’s racist past was much more effective.
Black voters turned out and made up 29% of the electorate on election day—a larger percentage than either of Barack Obama’s elections—and a whopping 96% of them voted for Doug Jones. That historical turnout and overwhelming margin was enough to eek out a victory by less than two percentage points, despite underperforming with white voters.