One factor Moore and his backers didn’t fully take into account was the viability of Jones, a prosecutor who made his name bringing Ku Klux Klan members who bombed a black church in Birmingham in 1963 to justice. After the allegations against Moore came to light, various polls showed Jones within striking distance of Moore or even in the lead. Jones’s strategy was to beat the odds in Alabama’s heavily Republican electorate by turning out as many black voters as he possibly could and picking off more moderate Republican voters who couldn’t stomach voting for Moore, even if the party establishment decided to tolerate him again.

To accomplish this, Jones campaigned heavily in black neighborhoods and churches and brought in high-profile black Democrats like Deval Patrick and Cory Booker to help him. He chose symbolically important places, scheduling a Saturday press availability outside the Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, the starting point of the historic civil-rights marches to Montgomery led by Martin Luther King Jr.

And to woo Republican voters, Jones’s campaign and outside groups took advantage of prominent Republicans’ resistance to Moore, cutting ads based on Alabama Senator Richard Shelby’s refusal to vote for him.