Alabama counties also have to verify and count so-called provisional ballots, which are given to people who are not on polling place voter lists. However, as the University of Florida's Michael McDonald, a nationally known turnout expert, tweeted Wednesday, those ballots are likely to break for Jones, not Moore.
While the election is not officially over until Merrill certifies the results and Jones is sworn in -- which under the electoral calendar, must happen by January 3 -- it's very unlikely that the most partisan Alabama Republicans can stop Jones from taking office. While some Senate Democrats have already demanded he be sworn in immediately, the most likely timetable is after the GOP-led Congress rams through its only major legislative action this year, a regressive and widely reviled tax bill.
On the other hand, Bump said no one should hold their breath for Moore to concede.
"In situations like this, when a candidate is favored to win after months of campaigning but comes up short, it's hard to tell if a refusal to concede is motivated by sincere concern over the result or simply a dogged refusal to accept reality," he wrote. "In 2014, Chris McDaniel narrowly lost a Senate election to Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and, according to the Clarion-Ledger's Sam Hall, simply never conceded. Perhaps that's Moore's eventual fate: Always being the guy who almost won but never admitted it."
"The evidence at hand makes one thing seem pretty clear, though: He's not likely to suddenly become the guy who actually did win."
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