There is more to an election result than meets the eye. On its face, Doug Jones (on right in photo), a Democrat, over Roy Moore, Republican, won a special election held December 17, 2017 in Alabama to fill the U.S. Senate seat once held by Jeff Sessions—he resigned to become U.S. Attorney General for President Donald Trump, serving until he was fired earlier this month. But that’s not all.
Moore would likely have won the election, most political observers believe, were it not for allegations that became public about a month before the election in which multiple women alleged that Moore had made unwanted advances or sexual assaults when he was in his early thirties and they were in their teens (the youngest was 14 at the time). These accounts attracted widespread national media coverage of the election.
Jones was the first Democrat elected to the Senate from Alabama in more than 30 years. (Alabama’s other U.S. Senator, Richard Shelby, was elected as a Democrat but switched parties and became a Republican in 1994.) His narrow victory over Moore—50.0 percent to 48.3 percent—has had benefits for more than the Democratic party. According to a Nov. 23 report in the Montgomery Advertiser, the state’s tourism director, Lee Sentell, said that the election results have resulted in a spike in tourism to the state.
According to the article, the state has realized an increased in spending of $1 billion. There are a lot of reasons for that — a better economy, for one. But the state’s shifting political image and a renewed, global interest in civil rights are also feeding that growth, said Sentell.
“A lot more people came to Alabama and its capital city to see the sights this year, and they spent a lot more money while they were here,” Sentell told the Advertiser.
He added, “I think the average person would be surprised to know that something like an election could have a potential impact on the tourism industry, which is obviously non-political … But we had lots of calls and emails the month leading up to (the election of Sen. Doug Jones), people saying, ‘We will never come to Gulf Shores again if’ the election turned out opposite the way they wanted it to.
“In a way, people vote with their money when they go on vacation.”