First of all, Jones was as good a candidate Democrats could have come up with for this race. He raised enough money to get his message out. He had apparently a great campaign staff. But the key was how he ran the campaign and the message he took to the whole state of Alabama. He worked the entire state, going into every county and organizing in those areas that most Democrats had been leaving alone. And his message was consistently moderate and more centrist. But most importantly, he made it clear he ran and will serve committed to getting things done, reaching across the aisle, avoiding as much as possible special interest politics, and staying on the issues the folks of Alabama raised as he campaigned.
The question now is will both parties learn from this and follow his general lead for the best interests of the country. The message I believe was clear for Democrats in 2018. Go to wherever the people are with your message but also listen. Keep the message focused less on ideological battles or wedge issues and more focused on the real changes the people want and need, remain committed to getting things accomplished (including working across the aisle to do so), and always look out for what would be best for the people you want to represent. For Republicans, their loss might just free them up to some extent from extremist politics. Just maybe the message might get through to the President that—as we've learned in Kansas—even lifelong Republicans can be pushed too far to the policy and rhetorical fringes and begin to demand better. But what would be really great, for example, would be Mitt Romney taking on Hatch (in his 80’s and lost in extremism) in Utah and the country getting a sane, smart conservative that would only do it to get things done. It seems to me that a return to balanced, reasonable debate would not only benefit the country’s general discourse but also result in better policy on behalf of the people.
How this really works out, no one knows for sure. But at least for now there is a little hope that the country can say, “enough is enough” to the politics of disrespect and division.