Senate-hopeful, 33-year-old Marine veteran Jonathan McConnell‘s Senate campaign sent an email Thursday saying longtime incumbent Richard Shelby is likely headed to a runoff. That is, based off a recent survey the campaign conducted Jan. 29 to 30, 2016 among 1,299 likely Republican primary voters.
According to the email, the campaign has made three main takeaways based on the survey’s findings:
- Richard Shelby has spent millions to lose ground;
- Shelby’s support is collapsing while McConnell’s is growing; and
- Richard Shelby will not break 50 percent on March 1 and cannot avoid a runoff.
Here’s the full text of the email:
To: Interested Parties
From: James Harris, General Consultant
Date: February 4, 2016
Last week, our campaign conducted its most recent survey of the campaign for Alabama’s Senate seat. What we have found is incredible – Senator Shelby has begun to lose serious ground in the battle for the US Senate seat, despite spending $3 million so far on broadcast and cable television – more than any incumbent Senator so far this cycle.
Senator Shelby now sits just barely above the threshold to avoid a runoff, and he is moving in the wrong direction.
Based on this survey, we have come to 3 key conclusions about this race:
(1) Richard Shelby has spent millions to lose ground;
(2) Shelby’s support is collapsing while McConnell’s is growing; and
(3) Richard Shelby will not break 50% on March 1 and cannot avoid a runoff.
RICHARD SHELBY HAS SPENT $3 MILLION ON ADS – AND LOST 9 POINTS.
Richard Shelby is vulnerable, and he knows it. Hence why, as the Cook Political Report noted, he has spent more money on ads than any candidate so far this cycle.
Shelby’s ballot share has plummeted nine points after just 3 weeks of McConnell advertising. Now, he stands at 55% on the ballot – barely enough to avoid a runoff, with 4 weeks left until Primary Day. All this, DESPITE the fact that he has spent more than $3 million on television advertising in an attempt to improve his position.
BALLOT 14-Oct 16-Dec 30-Jan SHELBY 53% 64% 55% Someone else 22% 15% 29% Undecided 26% 21% 16%
On the other hand, McConnell is increasing his ballot share dramatically. Since December, he has gained 10 points on the ballot test, while Shelby has lost 9 points. McConnell is clearly the strongest candidate against Shelby in the race and the only candidate positioned to advance to the April 12 runoff election.
BALLOT 16-Dec 30-Jan Shelby 64% 55% McConnell 15% 25% McGill 3% 2% Martin 2% 1% Bowman 1% 1% Undecided 21% 16%
SHELBY’S IMAGE AND SUPPORT HAVE ALREADY BEGUN TO COLLAPSE WHILE MCCONNELL’S IS GROWING.
As we noted two weeks ago in our last survey, Shelby’s numbers are soft and easily susceptible to collapse once voters learn about his true record. And in just two weeks, we’ve started to see that collapse in full motion:
SHELBY IMAGE 14-Oct 16-Dec 30-Jan FAVORABLE 61% 62% 56% UNFAVORABLE 17% 19% 27% NO OPINION 22% 18% 17%
McConnell’s image, however, is growing rapidly. After just $250,000 in paid media, McConnell has more than quintupled his favorability ratings and is now better than 2-1, with almost half of Alabama Republicans having an opinion of him.
MCCONNELL IMAGE 16-Dec 30-Jan FAVORABLE 5% 28% UNFAVORABLE 12% 12% NO OPINION 83% 60%
CONCLUSION: SHELBY WILL BE FORCED TO A RUNOFF – WHERE ALL BETS ARE OFF
Shelby is now in a precarious position. After spending more than $3 million on television advertising, Shelby has lost 9 points of ballot share. He is now just 5 points above the threshold for a runoff, and heading in the wrong direction.
Historically, these races develop within the last 10 days, as we’ve seen in countless GOP primaries before.
McConnell is currently the number 2 candidate against Shelby, earning 22% of ballot share, nearly double the last survey. He is incredibly well positioned to force Shelby to a runoff on March 1st and emerge as the lone Shelby alternative in the April 12 run-off election.
Survey conducted January 29 through January 30, 2016. 1,299 likely Republican Primary voters participated in the survey. Survey results weighted to reflect expected turnout demographics for the 2016 Republican Primary Election. Margin of Error is +/-2.7%. Totals do not always equal 100% due to rounding.
McConnell will face Shelby in the Republican Primary on March 1.