Democrat Doug Jones scored a stunning victory in deep red Alabama's Senate election
He got increasingly more help from individual donors outside the state
If campaign cash still plays a role in candidates winning elections, then Democrat Doug Jones has a few thank-you notes to write in the wake of his victory Tuesday night in Alabama’s US Senate race.
And according to federal campaign reports, he’ll have to send many to people from outside the state.
He wasn’t alone: Between May 1 and Nov. 22, both Jones and Republican Roy Moore had virtually the same proportion of money from individuals listed as being from out of state. Two out of every of those three dollars, in fact, came from outside Alabama, federal campaign records show
(This CNN analysis captured all contributions by individuals who gave at least $200 during the course of the campaign. Federal election rules don’t require candidates to provide locations for individuals until they reach that $200 mark.)
But break down those contributions by month, and watch this: In May, only $1 out of every $20 Jones raised from listed individuals was from out of state.
By November? That number had risen to $17 out of every $20.
Jones ultimately raised more than $3.7 million from such out-of-state individuals. Moore, who was controversial among Republicans, raised about $1.6 million. The total fund-raising for Jones, comprising all contributions, was $11.6 million and far outstripped Moore’s $5.2 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Those totals include the smaller, non-itemized contributions.
Outside money become an increasingly large share of Moore’s individual itemized contributions beginning over the summer. By the end, his share also topped 80%.
But the Jones trajectory was on a scale not commonly seen. Not that it’s necessarily surprising: He was little-known outside Alabama and widely expected to lose early in the year. Then everything changed when the primary drew near and it became more likely that Moore would be able to unseat Republican Sen. Luther Strange, who had been appointed when Jeff Sessions became attorney general. By September, half of Jones’ money from individuals was coming from outside Alabama.
Then once the allegations against Moore of trying to initiate sexual relationships with teenage girls surfaced, outside individual contributors started pouring money into his campaign war chest: 60% of such money in October was from outsiders, and that topped 80% in November.
Looking at where each candidate’s outside contributors live presents some interesting contrasts – and similarities.
Jones’ largest donation totals were primarily on the coasts, with New York and California understandably leading the pack, but also noticeable support up and down the East and West coasts.
Moore’s out-of-state backers were more likely to be from the South and the Western states. Though, curiously enough, people in California who got out their checkbooks for Moore made up one of his largest portions of campaign cash as well – despite his stated disdain for coastal “elites.”
One thing is clear: Both men galvanized individual contributors from every state to donate to their campaigns as national attention turned to the race.
In the case of Jones, the surge in both the proportion of money and the amount of money – more than $2 million in November – from individuals outside of Alabama aided an advertising and get-out-the-vote blitz that helped him get over the top on Tuesday.