Dixie Is (Still) Done

Doug Jones is the snow leopard of American party politics: He exists, but his extinction seems inevitable. With his 2017 special election victory, Jones became Alabama’s first Democratic U.S. senator since Howell Heflin retired 20 years earlier. The former prosecutor is the only Democrat among the ten who currently represent the five Deep South states, and one of three among the 22 senators from the 11 former Confederate states. The other two, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both hail from Virginia—a commonwealth that, by dint of its unusually high household incomes, non-native population, and Washington metropolitan influence, shares with Florida the distinction of being the least Southern of the Southern states.

Consider what it took for Jones to capture that Senate seat. He needed to win statewide in Alabama, where Republican presidential candidates as dissimilar as John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Donald Trump each amassed around 61 percent of the vote. He needed to win during a special election when turnouts are historically low, a fact that tends to draw more affluent and therefore more Republican voters. And although Republican President Donald Trump supported Luther Strange in the GOP primary, Jones had to beat a different Republican nominee who, nonetheless, was still endorsed in the general election by a President very popular in this deeply conservative red state.

Democracy Journal