After weeks of scandal and Republican Party hand-wringing, Alabama voters went to the polls yesterday in a Senate contest between a Republican accused of once preying on teenage girls, and a Democrat seeking an upset win in this deeply conservative state.
US President Donald Trump has made the special election a test of his brand of populism by urging loyalists to elect Republican firebrand Roy Moore, an ultra-conservative former judge who has been the focus of the race from the start.
Moore, who wants to bring his religious activism to the US Senate, has for the past month been fighting accusations he fondled two underage girls in the late 1970s when he was a state prosecutor in his 30s.
If Moore loses, Republicans will see their US Senate majority eroded, slipping from 52 to 51 seats out of 100 and reducing the GOP's margin for maneuver to the bare minimum.
To protect that precious seat, Trump ultimately endorsed Moore -- throwing caution to the wind for the 2018 mid-term elections, and for the party's image.
The Democratic candidate, Doug Jones, received support from Barack Obama, who made his own robo-call in a state where the black vote could prove decisive.
The latest survey by Fox News put the Democrat Jones ahead by 10 points, although a new Emerson poll has Moore ahead by nearly that much.