New polling released this weekend gives former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore a nearly 20-point lead over sitting Sen. Luther Strange in the Republican primary runoff for U.S. Senate.
If the election were held today, 51 percent of respondents support Moore; 32 percent would vote for Strange. Another 17 percent said they were undecided.
The poll, conducted by JMC Analytics, suggests three things:
– Moore is surging into an early lead, bolstered by a large number of voters who did not support either runoff contender in the Aug. 15 primary.
– Evangelical support is fueling Moore’s initial runoff lead.
– Endorsements from both President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are not helping Strange with voters.
Moore is leading throughout most Alabama media markets, except Mobile. Much of that support came from voters who cast a ballot for one of the other primary candidates. Those who supported the “also-rans” went for Moore 51-26 percent, as well as many of those in the Huntsville area who initially supported Congressman Mo Brooks. In the poll, Moore now has a 52-29 percent lead in Huntsville.
As for self-described evangelical Christians, Moore leads Strange 58-28 percent, while among non-evangelicals, Strange narrowly leads 42-39 percent.
While Trump and McConnell have spent a considerable amount of political capital – as well as millions of dollars – supporting Strange, those efforts appear to have a limited effect. Trump’s endorsement only benefited Strange 25-23 percent (51 percent of respondents said it made little or no difference). McConnell’s support had the opposite effect, with many respondents – by a 45-10 percent margin – saying that it made them less likely to support strange
The poll, conducted Aug. 17 and 19, used an automated landline sample of 515 likely primary voters (based on recent electoral participation) from the list of Alabama registered voters. The margin of error was +/- 4.3 percent, with a 95 percent confidence level.
According to the polling memo, demographic breakdown respondents was 94 to 5 percent white/black, with the geographic breakdown: 42 percent from Birmingham, 6 percent from Dothan, 24 percent from Huntsville, 15 percent from Mobile, and 13 percent from Montgomery.
The winner of the Sept. 26 runoff between Moore and Strange will face Democratic nominee Doug Jones in a December election to determine who will serve the remainder of Attorney General Jeff Sessions‘ Senate term.