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Tonight, a race that seized national headlines for entirely too long finally came to an end. Currently, the Alabama U.S. Senate race has been called for Democrat Doug Jones with 49.92 percent of the vote. Republican Roy Moore is trailing Jones with 48.38 percent. We have editorialized that we felt Moore was unfit to serve (because he is besties with Gordon Klingenschmitt, at the very least – not to mention accusations about his treatment of women and attitude towards minorities). Alabama also recognized this reality.

But the defeat of Moore, a deeply flawed candidate, should not be mistaken as a victory or a mandate for Democrats or their failed policies. The real winners of tonight are the Republicans, like U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, who refused to back someone who was legitimately unfit to serve.

True leaders in the Republican Party did the right thing by putting what’s right over what’s expedient and Moore justly lost. Democrats should have mopped the floor with Moore. In his last statewide election in 2012, Moore won by a mere four points. To put this in perspective, Presidential candidate Mitt Romney won the state that year by a whopping 22 points. The fact that Moore got anywhere near the votes he did tonight shows that Democrat policies are so, so bad that a large portion would rather vote for a deeply flawed candidate than vote for a liberal Democrat.

Nonetheless, Republicans should never have supported such a flawed candidate and Jones will be up again next year and he will probably lose. The real winners tonight were conservatives who stood up to Moore – GOP leaders with the purse strings and GOP voters at the ballot box, as David French at National Review rightly pointed out in his column:

“Let’s plainly state the reason why Roy Moore lost tonight. Alabama conservatives took a stand. By the tens of thousands they either stayed home, voted for other candidates, or — in some instances — voted for Doug Jones. To say that conservatives beat Roy Moore is not to take one thing away from Doug Jones. He ran a smart race, he mobilized Democrats, and his voters came to the polls in large numbers — large enough to win. But this is Alabama. He could have run the perfect race, and he still would have lost — if conservatives supported their party’s nominee.”