When the votes from Selma and surrounding Dallas County came in

Being an unabashed racist isn’t always a winning strategy.

According to CNN exit polling, 30 percent of the electorate was African-American, with 96 percent of them voting for Mr. Jones. A remarkable 98 percent of black women voters supported Mr. Jones. The share of black voters Tuesday was higher than the share in 2008 and 2012, when Barack Obama was on the ballot.

That’s despite the obstacles created since Shelby v Holder.

Michael Nabors, 54, and his wife, Ella, 55, were among the black voters soaking up the Democratic good cheer after news agencies called the race for Mr. Jones.

“We knew the world was looking at us,” he said.

Mr. Nabors said that black voters were paying attention to Mr. Moore’s comments in September, in which he said that America was last “great” during the days when slavery was legal. He said they paid attention when Mr. Moore brought Stephen K. Bannon, the former Trump adviser, to campaign for him. He said that they paid attention to the allegations brought by the women who said Mr. Moore had consorted with them when they were young.

And he said they paid attention to Mr. Jones’s most famous case as a prosecutor.

And then there was Selma.

When the votes from Selma and surrounding Dallas County came in just a little after 10 pm, Moore’s lead began to evaporate. On CNN, John King announced, “Selma just put Doug Jones back into the race.”

A county where African Americans make up 70 percent of the population gave 75 percent of the vote to Doug Jones. That brought the Democrat 7,000 votes closer to victory. And as more votes from more predominately African-American counties came in, Jones moved into the lead. Within a half hour, the networks were announcing that a Democrat had won an Alabama Senate contest for the first time in almost a quarter-century.

Jones needed all the votes that he got Tuesday. He won by a narrow margin—prevailing by a bit more than 20,000 votes out of roughly 1.3 million cast. But he could not have gotten near the finish line without the overwhelming support that he received from Alabama’s African-American voters in general, and from African-American women voters in particular.

“We have come so far,” Doug Jones said in his victory speech.

Everyone knew what he meant.

Just as everyone knew what it meant when Selma put Doug Jones into the race.

Hold on. Keep your eyes on the prize. Hold on.

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