U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) on Tuesday evening interviewed with ABC News to coincide with the second night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
The interview came after Jones the night previous delivered a primetime convention speech in which he gave a full-throated endorsement of presumptive nominee Joe Biden.
Speaking on “ABC News Live,” Jones began the more than six-minute interview by asserting, “I don’t think [Alabama] is as deep-red as everybody says.”
He used his 2017 special election victory as evidence of that claim. It should be noted that Jones in that race narrowly beat the uniquely unpopular and under-siege Roy Moore by less than 22,000 votes; Jones garnered 673,896 votes to Moore’s 651,972.
Comparatively, Governor Kay Ivey in 2018 beat Democratic gubernatorial nominee Walt Maddox by just under 328,000 votes (1,022,457 votes to 694,495). While Maddox barely picked up any additional votes relative to Jones, Ivey outperformed Moore by more than 370,000 votes.
This was not a trend unique to the governor’s contest, either. In fact, Alabama Democrats were blown out in all statewide elections in 2018 and lost even more ground in state legislative races, with Republicans winning super majorities in both chambers.
Despite this reality, Jones in his ABC News interview pointed to the 2018 cycle as a positive for Democrats in the Yellowhammer State and as another example of Alabama not being “deep-red.”
“[W]e had a great showing in 2018 for Democrats up and down the ballot,” Alabama’s junior senator remarked. “It’s not as deep-red as people think.”
After getting his commentary out of the way about past election cycles, Jones turned his attention to the upcoming November general election. He is set to face Republican senatorial nominee Tommy Tuberville, while Biden and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) will constitute the Democratic presidential ticket against President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
Jones was asked about the uphill battle he faces getting the majority of Alabama voters, who are overwhelmingly expected to give the state’s electoral votes to the Trump/Pence ticket, to vote for him as a Democrat down-ballot.
Trump has consistently enjoyed some of his highest, if not the highest, approval ratings in the Yellowhammer State. He beat Hillary Clinton in the state by 588,708 votes in 2016 (1,318,255 votes to 729,547), meaning Jones could potentially need more than half a million Trump voters to split their tickets in order to win reelection.
However, Jones expressed significant optimism that Biden would win over Alabamians who voted for Trump in 2016, perhaps boosting Jones’ candidacy at the same time.
“I think [Biden] will certainly do that. I think he’ll win over some of those (Republicans), but I think he’s going to win a majority of the independent votes. We’ve still got a huge swath of voters in Alabama that are independents, and the fact is that in state races, with rare exceptions, they haven’t been given a lot of choices,” Jones advised.
“I think [Biden] has a chance to win over a lot of folks… I doubt that he’s going to take Alabama — that would be a real shock if that’s the case,” the senator added. “But he’s going to do well in Alabama. He is going to do very well in Alabama. The people in Alabama know Joe.”
Jones then framed Biden’s strong performance in the state’s 2020 Democratic primary as evidence of widespread, bipartisan Biden support in Alabama.
“He came down and campaigned for me, we had 1,200 people at the Birmingham Civic Center and about 200 more waiting in line…” Jones noted. “So, I think he’ll do very well.”
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn