Doug Jones’ Personal Appeal

Alabama's junior Senator needs my help.

So, I just received an email from Senator Doug Jones with the subject line “I’m personally asking for your support in this tight race, James.” While it’s been more than eighteen years since I lived in Alabama, I graduated public high school there and earned three degrees from the state’s universities. Plus, his Republican opponent was not only the head coach at rival Auburn but kind of a dick about it. Topping it all off, he’s running as a Trumpist.

Still, I was surprised to hear that it was a tight race. Indeed, I had written off Jones’ chances of winning it. So, imagine my surprise when I found out—from the horse’s mouth—that he was in fact holding on to a narrow lead.

One point. According to one of the latest polls, that’s the sliver of a lead I have over my Trump-endorsed GOP opponent. Now, with just 10 days to go, that one point — and this grassroots team — is all that’s standing between the working families of Alabama and another Trump 2.0 in the United States Senate.

We always knew it’d come down to the wire, but this is just too close for comfort. We’re calling, texting, and organizing voters around the clock to ensure we leave no stone unturned and no vote uncounted. I won’t lie, James, that work is expensive. And with my opponent’s dark-money PACs breathing down our necks, we can’t afford to slow down in this final moment.

Whether or not Democrats like me can pull off a victory will come down to the number of voters we can reach in these final 10 days — especially since folks have already started casting their ballots. My win in 2017 was thanks in no small part to this grassroots team, so I have to ask:

James, will you split a $10 donation between my campaign and the DNC today so that our party has the resources it needs to get out the vote in this final stretch of the race and expand the map for Democrats nationwide?

Now, it happens that I can afford $10. But, still, I was skeptical. Alabama isn’t touted as one of the battleground states in changing control of the Senate. And, last I checked, it was actually the Democrats with a massive financial advantage in this race.

So, I checked the trusty folks at Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, where pretty much everyone is rooting for Jones and his party to do well, and confirmed my previous suspicion: Jones is not only way behind but has little chance of winning.

Here’s how they handicap the race:

And here’s the polling trend throughout the race:

But, yes, it turns out that one poll does give Jones a 1-point lead:

That there are so few polls, given the number of research universities in the state, is remarkable. That the three recentish polls are so disparate is interesting. Still, the rather clear trend is that all polls in the race by companies with at least four letters in their name show a double-digit lead for Tuberville.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    Doug Jones has only slightly better odds than Trump.

    But it’s interesting, isn’t it, how we all (including me) write Jones off while still worrying that Trump might win.

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  2. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    But it’s interesting, isn’t it, how we all (including me) write Jones off while still worrying that Trump might win.

    Yes. But that’s a function of the way we elect Senators vs Presidents. There’s simply zero chance Trump wins the popular vote. But it’s at least theoretically possible that he squeaks out narrow wins in most of the very-close states.

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  3. Sleeping Dog says:

    If Jones wins, that will be proof that this indeed is a wave election and rationalize the polling in TX and GA.

    23% chance of winning is better than Trumps.

  4. CSK says:

    How much of Tuberville’s popularity is due to the fact that he’s a college football coach, and, therefore, a deity in Alabama?

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  5. @CSK: Most of Tuberville’s support is due to the fact that he is the GOP nominee. His football coaching plus Trump’s rejection of Sessions led to his nomination.

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  6. @James Joyner:

    But that’s a function of the way we elect Senators vs Presidents. There’s simply zero chance Trump wins the popular vote.

    Indeed (or, at least, close to zero).

    538’s model gives Trump only a 4% chance to win the popular vote, even while it is currently giving him a 13% chance of winning re-election.

    The Economist model gives Trump a 1% chance of winning the pop vote.

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  7. @Steven L. Taylor: And my point is to reinforce James’: how different this conversation would be if we elected presidents the way we elect Senators.

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  8. @Sleeping Dog: If Jones wins, it will mean that Trump’s damage to the GOP plus his motivation of the opposition was truly historic.

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  9. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Agreed. But it wouldn’t deter the trumpaloons or the Rs in general. The party won’t reevaluate itself and change till the current leadership passes from the scene. By that I mean the current R senators, congress critters and governors. It took Dems 20 years to finally get tired of losing elections after McGovern before they dropped the liberal purity test and nominated Clinton. (I know Carter, but he was an anomaly due to Watergate.

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  10. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    You answered the question–which I admit was somewhat rhetorical–that I was asking. To wit, Tuberville got his nomination because he was a football coach. In how many states would a college football coaching career qualify someone to run for the senate?

  11. @Sleeping Dog:

    But it wouldn’t deter the trumpaloons or the Rs in general. The party won’t reevaluate itself and change till the current leadership passes from the scene.

    If the Rs lose Texas or lose the Seante seats in places like Alabama and SC there will be a real reckoning.

    As I keep poinint out: Trump has influence because he won in 2016 and if that route leads to true disaster in 2020, there will be big shift–I am not sure what it will be, but the Reps will have to seriously reevaluate which means current leadership will be gone.

  12. @CSK:

    You answered the question–which I admit was somewhat rhetorical–that I was asking. To wit, Tuberville got his nomination because he was a football coach. In how many states would a college football coaching career qualify someone to run for the senate?

    I agree it helped him immensely. But I think it oversimplfies to say he got the his nomination because he was a football coach.

    And celebrity candidates are not just a southeast phenomenon.

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  13. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    No, of course not. Al Franken, Cynthia Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sonny Bono, Kanye West, Shirley Temple–to name just a very few–have done so. But I do wonder if Tuberville had been, say, a singer or an actor, he’d have been according the nomination quite so effortlessly on his part.

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  14. CSK says:

    @CSK:
    In the penultimate line of my post, I meant “accorded,” not “according.”

  15. James Joyner says:

    @CSK: Quite a few top-level athletes have been elected to Congress. Oklahoma coaching legend Tom Osborne is the only example I can think of from the sideline.

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  16. Kylopod says:

    My dad regularly donates to the Democrats. He’s told me that they typically send him one of two types of messages. Either they show a poll in which the Dem in some race is doing really well, or they show a poll in which the Dem is doing surprisingly badly (relative to expectations). Call it “pep” mode and “panic” mode. In both cases, the pitch is the same: give us money.

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  17. Neil Hudelson says:

    I’ll give Jones credit for at least finding a current poll that supports his claim. Amy McGrath flogged well into September a poll from May showing she was leading.

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  18. Steven L. Taylor says:

    @James Joyner: correct, except he is a Nebraska coaching legend 😉

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  19. de stijl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    One thing that has always struck me as odd was we have a different set of rules depending on level.

    Governors, Representatives, and (now) Senators are elected by a simple majority vote across all counties and precincts.

    Yet the Presidency is multi-apportioned by state which at times actively subverts the majority of voters. At least twice in my lifetime the person that got the most votes nationwide “lost” the national election.

    Two sets of rules is fundamentally unfair.

    In 90+% of how we perceive elections, Clinton handily won.

    I appreciate your posts on the Electoral College.

  20. James Joyner says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Indeed–wrong side of Kansas. And, while he had a successful run, Tuberville is no Osborne.