Polling Continues To Show A Tight Senate Race In Alabama
With ten days to go, the Senate race in Alabama between Roy Moore and Doug Jones is close.
In ten days, Alabama voters head to the polls in the Special Election pitting Republican Roy Moore against Democratic nominee Doug Jones in a race to determine who will succeed Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the Senate. In an ordinary election, there would be no question that the Republican nominee would end up winning a head-to-head election against in Democrat in Alabama, but this has been anything but an ordinary election. It was roughly one month ago that The Washington Post came out with a blockbuster report that detailed allegations from four women who say that Moore made inappropriate advances toward them when they were teenagers and he was an Assistant District Attorney in his 30s. The most explosive of these claims came from a woman named Leigh Corfman who said that Moore approached her when she was just fourteen years old and ended up taking her to his home one night where he sexually assaulted her. After the Post report, several other women came forward to report similar contact with Moore during the late 1970s and 1980s, including another woman who says that Moore assaulted her while the two of them were alone in his car. Just days later, four more women came out with claims of similar behavior by Moore during the relevant time period.
The reaction to these reports was quick and severe. With the notable exception of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, every Republican Senator who had previously endorsed Moore rescinded that endorsement. The Republican National Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committees both ended their support for his campaign. And nearly every national Republican asked about the race called on Moore to drop out of the race and suggested that the Senate should either refuse to seat Moore if he won the election or immediately move him to eject him as permitted by Senate rules. Moore did have his defenders, though, and many of them were even willing to say that they’d vote for a confirmed child molester over a Democrat. Shortly before Thanksgiving, President Trump joined that crowd and, while he didn’t formally say he believed Moore and disbelieved his accusers, he did say that people should vote for Moore merely because his opponent was a Democrat.
Initially at least, the charges against Moore did seem like they were having an impact on the race. Polls taken in the immediate aftermath of the report showed that the race had tightened significantly. Some polling even showed Jones pulling into a slight lead over Moore. More recent polling, though, has been giving Moore back the lead while a new poll has Jones with a small lead over Moore:
Alabama’s closely watched U.S. Senate race is a neck-and-neck contest as voter concerns about personal moral conduct weigh on the candidacy of Republican Roy Moore, according to a new Washington Post-Schar School poll.
With less than two weeks to go, support for Democrat Doug Jones stands at 50 percent vs. Moore’s 47 percent support among likely voters — a margin of a scant three points that sets up a nail-biter for the oddly timed Dec. 12 special election.
The survey shows that allegations of improper sexual behavior against Moore, a former Alabama chief justice, hang heavily over a race that would favor a Republican under ordinary circumstances in this deeply conservative state.
Fifty-three percent of voters say Jones, a former federal prosecutor, has higher standards of personal moral conduct than Moore. In contrast, about a third of likely voters say Moore, who has cast his campaign as a “spiritual battle” with heavy religious overtones, has higher moral standards.
Among the 1 in 4 voters who say the candidates’ moral conduct will be the most important factor in their vote, Jones leads, 67 percent to 30 percent.
And Jones, whose strategy relies in part on peeling way Republican support from Moore, has the backing of 1 in 6 GOP-leaning likely voters. About 1 in 14 Democratic-leaning voters are backing Moore.
The race, in which the winner will fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he became attorney general, has taken on national importance because of its implications for the Republican majority in the Senate. If Jones wins, the GOP would control the chamber by only 51 seats to 49.
The survey shows that the Alabama electorate is divided on the validity of the allegations against Moore. While 35 percent of likely voters think Moore did make unwanted advances on teenage girls, 37 percent say they are unsure or have no opinion. The smallest group — 28 percent of likely voters — say Moore did not make the advances that were alleged.
Women are more likely than men to find the allegations credible and to support Jones, with 41 percent of women saying Moore made unwanted advances compared with 28 percent of men saying the same. Moore leads by 15 points among men likely to vote, while Jones leads by 18 points among likely female voters.
There is also a stark partisan and ideological divide in how voters have processed the allegations, with many Republicans and GOP-leaning groups expressing skepticism.
Fewer than 1 in 6 Republican-leaning likely voters say they believe that Moore made unwanted advances toward female teenagers. That view is held among similarly small shares of white evangelical Protestants and those who say they approve of President Trump, who in recent days has questioned the allegations and urged Alabamians to prevent Jones from winning the seat.
More than three-quarters of each of those groups support Moore over Jones.
At the same time, Jones is running well ahead of his own party’s dismal track record in a state that last elected a Democratic U.S. senator in 1992, when Sen. Richard C. Shelby won. He defected to the Republican Party two years later.
In the Post-Schar School poll, Jones has the backing of 33 percent of white voters in the state. Barack Obama won just 15 percent of white votes in Alabama in his 2012 presidential reelection, according to exit polls.
This poll comes in the wake of three other polls that give Moore a single-digit lead over his Democratic opponent. An Emerson College poll conducted shortly before Thanksgiving, for example, gave Moore a six-point advantage over Jones, for example. In another poll conducted by JMC Analytics conducted over the same period gave Moore a five-point advantage and an earlier poll conducted by an Alabama television station showed Moore with a scant two-point lead. The RealClearPolitics average for the race, meanwhile, gives Moore 49.0% versus Jones who stands at 46.5%, giving Moore just a 2.5 point advantage. The RCP chart, meanwhile, shows an uptick for Moore thanks in part to the aforementioned string of positive numbers for him:
Where the race goes from here is unclear. The fact that more than a month will have passed since the first allegations against Moore became public by the time people head to the polls to vote suggests that Moore may have seen the worst of the impact from them last month and that Alabama Republicans initially put off by the allegations will end up either voting for him in the end or simply staying home rather than going to the polls to cast a vote for a Democrat. In that case, and unless Jones is able to get people who might have otherwise stayed home on December 12th to cast a ballot either via an absentee ballot or on Election Day, that Moore will indeed pull out a victory even if does end up being a narrow one. In fact, given the state’s natural inclinations the most likely outcome would appear to be a narrow Moore victory. On the other hand, there are some signs in this latest poll that Jones could end up benefiting from the fact that the allegations against Moore have had an impact on women that could cause them to come out to vote in an election they otherwise might have skipped. In that case, it might give Jones the edge he needs to buck the trend that has prevented Democrats from winning a Senate election in Alabama in more than twenty years.
These polls are all pretty useless at this point. It will be about turnout, and in these circumstances I don’t trust anyone’s notion of a ‘likely voter.’
@michael reynolds: Absolutely. In fact, Rove was right, the electorate is so polarized, there are so few persuadable voters, that they’re all turnout elections.
In this case the evangelicals are motivated by this “elitist attack” on Moore, but some of them have to, at some subconscious level, realize Moore is a piece of dog spit. There have to be a lot of minority and educated urban voters who haven’t bothered to vote in the past, but can see a glimmer of hope here. I wouldn’t even hazard a guess how it will shake out. All I’m sure of is that if Jones wins, a pile of congressional GOPs are going to absolutely freak.
Out of curiosity I looked at sample ballots to see if there’s anything else going on to drive turnout. It’s just Jones/Moore and a few standard issue local referenda. That’s it. Plus, entertainingly, a straight party Dem/Rep option if you don’t care to bother with voting individually in each of the one partisan race.
And polls have been notoriously bad lately … arguably they’ll be pretty useless even on the election eve.
Latest fun one: in Calgary (Canadian city of population about one million) , in a fairly conservative province (by Canadian standards, meaning still left of the Democratic Party in America), the conservative was supposed to win by 8-17 points. He lost by 9.
I think its becoming news when the polls are right. Not sure why its happening, but its been going on for several years now – I suspect election teams are now hoping they’re behind in the polls.
This is true, and Special Elections are tough to poll because of that. Notwithstanding all of that, the fact that Jones is even within striking distance in a state like Alabama is something that should not be dismissed.
Polling hasn’t been nearly as bad as yuo describe. The polls were basically on the nose in New Jersey this year, for example. Although that was an easy call.
In Virginia, the final RCP average had the Democratic nominee leading by roughly four points. He ended up winning by six thanks to the better than expected turnout in areas favorable to Democrats. A two-point difference is well within the margin of error.
@Doug Mataconis: It shouldn’t be dismissed. It will be by the congressional Rs if Jones loses by 5 votes. They’ll see it as a one-off driven by outing Moore as a sexual creep. It is very important the Dems don’t dismiss it. They had a solid candidate in place when Moore’s luck ran out. They need to contest everything.
Whenever a polling company calls, I don’t answer the phone. Most people don’t. So the poll is never a random sample of the general population, but rather a random sample of the type of people who like to take polls.
I’ve received more polling calls (4) in the past 2+ years than I did in the previous 25 years (2). I have decided to participate, I can’t think of a reason to decline.
@Stormy Dragon: “Whenever a polling company calls, I don’t answer the phone. Most people don’t”
These are two completely different thoughts, and it’s fascinating that you simply conflate your own personal preference with that of “most people.”
Polling companies are generally for-profit corporation that make huge amounts of money off a free labor pool. I decline for the same reason I’d decline to continue doing my job if my boss stopped paying me.
Or maybe I’m aware that the response rate for telephone polling is 10 percent:
Is The Polling Industry In Stasis Or In Crisis?
And then I came to the conclusion that “90%” qualifies as “most”.
@Stormy Dragon: there’s a couple of bike share programs in my neighborhood, that result in bikes left on random people’s front lawns. There’s a phone number of the bikes to call and report them as needing to be picked up.
I take a hardline approach of not wanting to do some company’s work for it by cleaning up their crap, or calling them to pick up their crap. If I have to deal with one of their bikes I gently walk it to the nearest dumpster.
Maybe I should be stripping it for parts and selling the parts on eBay, but I don’t have time for that.
I wish this election would just happen already, and we could move on from wondering if a Democrat is worse than a Child Molester in Alabama, and move on to mocking the people of Alabama for this.
For those who would rely on the collective wisdom of the Alabama voting public and think these polls suggest a win for Jones, I have some investment advice that came to me from a Nigerian prince. This is no longer a matter of individual ignorance but tribalism. If the Democrats have any prayer of winning this election, it will be the result of aggressive and sustained work to turn out the vote.
The undecided Alabama voter:
“Hmmm… Roy Moore is a rampant homophobe, but on the negative side he might have harassed underage girls. And I don’t know about Jones. Not only is he a Democrat, he also prosecuted the Klan for bombing that church and I don’t think I can look past that.”
Red state conservatives need not whine about how they are painted by liberals…this election is illustrating how so many of those criticisms of these people are absolutely true…
@george: the poll you are talking about in Calgary was a very distinct outlier and widely questioned even at the time of its release.
To evangelicals, the fact that Moore targeted young teenaged girls is a feature, not a bug.
@gVOR08: “They had a solid candidate in place when Moore’s luck ran out.”
A candidate who’s struggling against a child molester isn’t a solid candidate. The real lesson is, run someone whose views are somewhere close to those of the voters. A moderate would win this seat by 20%.
Trump carried AL by 28%.
@loaded: Head? Meet desk.
Oh for god’s sake, Roy Moore is what passes for a moderate in Alabama.
Doug Jones, on the other hand, actually is a moderate.
@al-Ameda: What a moderate is varies by district. That’s the point. A moderate is someone that the middle ~40% can vote for comfortably. Running a candidate who’s in the middle of the Democratic Party in Alabama isn’t a smart move. By definition, unless the average voter approves of child molestation, if a candidate struggles against a child molester, he’s not a moderate.
This isn’t about how moderate Doug Jones is, rather, this is about how tribal and blinded that many in Alabama are that they would vote for a child molester rather than a Democrat…the governor herself personifies this…she has admitted that she believes Moore’s accusers and yet she is still voting for him…
@loaded: “By definition, unless the average voter approves of child molestation, if a candidate struggles against a child molester, he’s
not a moderatea Democrat if we’re talking about Alabama.
FTFY. A free service of Cracker Enterprises Worldwide.
@al-Ameda: @loaded: I think Jones would have a higher chance of winning if he were pro-life.
This is the same kind of whataboutism nonsense logic that’s lead to the disaster of a tax bill being shoved up the public’s ass. It’s the same BS where people equated Hillary “just as bad” as Trump because she wasn’t a “good” candidate. Support for a bad candidate by a voter who’s willing to overlook any and all crimes as long as they get what they want in the end. Moore’s a damn pervert – any “yeah buts” are nothing more then morally bankrupt people clutching for a fig leaf to justify voting for him. The reason Jones is struggling is because Alabama really, really, REALLY wants to vote (R) in all cases, period. Jones could be the most conservative Democrat ever, spout all their positions and he’d *still* lose because of the (D) after his name.
Facts are facts: Alabama is going to vote for a child molester rather then a moderate Democrat solely because they think the Dem’s going to support causes they don’t approve of. By definition then the average voter does approve of child molestation, at least in this case.
In other words, if an Alabama Democrat supported Birtherism, proclaimed ‘reverse racism’ to be a more serious problem than actual historical racism, believed that Hillary is still running a child sex slave operation out of a DC pizzeria, expressed support for Trump’s wall, and does not believe that the audio tape wherein Trump was captured bragging about sexual harassment is real – that candidate would probably defeat Roy Moore. Right?
The fact that the governor supports a statutory rapist is not the fault of Doug Jones and his beliefs, or Democrats in Alabama, it is on the governor and other Alabamans.
Pro-life voters are committed Republicans, especially in Alabama.
All that would do is depress Dem turnout. Besides, sometimes doing the right thing is right.
It’s not that simple. Dems have often managed to win office in deep-red states by nominating pro-lifers: examples include Joe Donnelly of Indiana (who won his seat when his opponent was one of two Republican Senate candidates in 2012 to make a dumb and offensive statement about rape), Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and John Bel Edwards of Louisiana. Abortion really matters to some conservative voters. Sometimes it is the central reason why they consider themselves Republicans. Indeed, in the 1970s many Democrats became Republicans over this issue alone. To them, abortion is the killing of a human being, and they could not give a fig about tax rates.
On a broader level, culturally conservative Republicans sometimes respond favorably to a Democrat who appears to speak their language, so to speak. It’s one of the reasons why Joe Manchin looks in somewhat healthy shape for reelection next year despite representing a state that voted for Trump at nearly 70% of the vote, the highest in the nation. Manchin is the guy who once ran an ad showing him literally shooting cap-and-trade with a gun. He’s got the redneck act nailed down perfectly.
Of course, there is the question of why we’d want a Democrat who’s pro-life, pro-gun, and pro-coal. At some point it may seem like we’re just backing a Republican with a D after his name. It’s something I’ve given a lot of thought, and I’m still not quite sure what the right answer is. Still, from what I’ve seen, even a Democrat who barely seems like a Democrat is usually preferable to a Republican. Heck, even pro-life Dems are usually less extreme on the issue than their Republican counterparts.
The bottom line is that we’re going to have to sacrifice something if we’re to win office outside the super-blue areas. We can debate whether restricting abortion is a step too far, and I’d agree that sometimes we have to stand up to principle, especially when it has real consequences. But right or wrong, I’m still pretty convinced that running a pro-life candidate in a place like Alabama does in fact increase the candidate’s chances of winning.
Look: I believe Moore is probably going to win. I’ve believed that all along; there hasn’t been a moment in this race when I thought Jones was the favorite. But there is this tendency I’ve seen among some liberals to make sweeping, absolutist statements about Republican voters that are probably exaggerations, such as the idea that no Alabama Republicans whatsoever will ever possibly vote for Jones. Even though Moore will probably eke out victory in the end, maybe even by a comfortable margin, the fact that the race is even competitive in such a solid-red state is evidence that he’s been hurt by the revelations. There’s no doubt in my mind that some Alabama Republicans will be pulling the lever for Moore while holding their noses, and some just might choose to sit out the election because of it.
Note here that I’m not saying this represents the view of the majority of Alabama Republicans. It doesn’t have to. Even a relatively small percentage of defections may make all the difference. I do actually agree that a majority of Alabama Republicans will vote for anyone with an R after his name, even a child molester, and I find that to be very sad. But I simply don’t believe that’s true universally of all Republicans in Alabama; if it were, the polls would never be this close.
So…all you people disgusted at GOP support for alleged child molester Roy Moore, can any of you provide a link to your comments of disgust regarding Dem support for alleged rapist Bill Clinton? You know, like how outraged you were at him not only being invited to speak at multiple Democratic National Conventions but being wildly cheered at them?
You really are leaning heavily into that weasel word “alleged,” now aren’t you? Obama is an alleged birth-certificate forger. Rafael Cruz is an alleged JFK assassin. Bush allegedly planned 9/11. You allegedly didn’t vote for Donald Trump.
Clinton was accused of rape by exactly one woman, who at one point testified under oath that the rape never happened. Moore has been accused by multiple women of having assaulted them as teens, in addition to many other witnesses who attested to his harassment of underage girls.
Not all allegations are created equal.
I think it depends on everything else they are for and against, and where they are from. There is some point at which the Democrat label would be meaningless, but I don’t think we will ever end up with a Tea Party Democrat.
I’ll take a pro-life Democrat in Alabama as a big win, but a pro-life Democrat in California as a big loss. Both would be better than a Republican from their state, though. If we could nominate the exact clone of George Herbert Walker Bush (preferably without the groping) as an Alabama “Democrat” I would donate money, even though he wouldn’t be a reliable vote on the Supreme Court, women’s rights, guns or really anything.
Newt Gingrich. Newt is the dividing line.
We had a Mormon guy at my soon-to-be-former job, and he was somewhat circumspect on some political issues (this is a liberal hellhole, after all) but he would often say that if you think abortion is murder, you should be willing to bombard high schools with condoms from a t-shirt cannon. I think he was probably pro-life, but I think my politics were closer to his than they were to a lot of the kids who cried when Trump was elected.
(Yes, they cried. I tried to make them feel better by pointing out that “I’m an upper-middle class white, cisgender middle-aged man who somehow passes for straight even if I am out with a boyfriend — don’t worry, I’ll be fine unless he starts a nuclear war, and if he does we will probably be vaporized before we know about it” but apparently they are so unempathetic they couldn’t understand that there are bad times and good times… but we get through them until we don’t. I will never understand millennials)
Then what do you think of Bob Casey Jr. of PA? Personally I’d support a strong primary challenger if one came along, even though on most issues he’s a pretty conventional liberal. I don’t see what intrinsic advantage his pro-life position gives him in the purple state. For several years, in fact, PA’s other Senator was Arlen Specter, a pro-choice Republican.
Casey sort of inherited his pro-life views from his father, the late Sen. Bob Casey Sr., who lent his name to one of the first big challenges to Roe, 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which in fact ended up succeeding in putting limitations around the original decision. (The only reason it didn’t cause Roe to be overturned was the unpredictable defection of three Reagan-Bush appointees: Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy, and David Souter.) Both of the Caseys seem like relics of a form of Catholic social-justice, anti-abortion liberalism that is mostly obsolete today. Joe Manchin and John Bel Edwards are more cultural-conservative populists, which plays well in impoverished red states.
This. And it would be true even if the thing we’re sacrificing is an an hour or two at the polling place.
I think we all need to find that place where one more vote against Trump’s agenda becomes a more valuable thing than symbolic purity. Also, we should be advancing black Democrats in the south.
Ya know, Mike, it’s funny. I mean, yeah, I get it. I note the hypocrisy too, going, “Wow, people give free passes to badly behaved politicians they like.”
But if that kind of thing is what turns your stomach, don’t turn around and do it for the politician you like, because what does that make you? Just like them.
The problem with this notion is what exactly gets sacrificed and who gets stabbed in the back to get that “one vote.” (actual or perceived stabbing). We lost blue states because some voters felt the party had abandoned and ignored them – what happens when Dems actively start ignoring others to get back those states? Does the math really work on a pro-life Dem in the South because instead of expecting someone to hold their nose and vote Dem, we expect them to hold their nose and vote Repub-lite? How is it not just lipstick on a pig and why should a voter pick the “fake” when they can vote for the “real thing”?
It’s not necessarily about purity but about core identity and functional votes. How many things can a politician shed to be acceptable to red states but still be identifiable as a Dem? Quite a few of the shibboleths necessary will make them an unreliable vote in the long run as well. Since they’ll be voted right out if they flip-flop, you’ll only get one run out of them before the process repeats itself.. How can you assume they’d vote your way on position X if they were elected solely because they opposed you on it? It doesn’t profit anyone to get Generic Guy (D) elected if he acts like an (R) in office – we would have essentially paid for a GOP win.
I get that change is necessary in order to grow as a party. I get that not all positions can be held as inviolable to the core mission of the party. My concern is a lot of the changes that keep getting suggested are the things that make the Democratic Party what it is to most voters. We need to be careful to not toss the baby out with the bathwater.
If you care a lot about pro=life, what is really important is who gets appointed to the federal judiciary, much more important than how some Senator votes on legislation.
Thus, (D) or (R) is much more important than whether the guy is pro-life or not. So, a (D) might, by being pro-life, pick up a few votes from vaguely pro-life voters who do not actually feel strongly about the issue, but he still has no chance for hard-core evangelicals.
So I don’t see where being pro-life or not makes much difference for a (D.) Nothing to stress overly over.
Here in the real world, Democratic candidates need to win primary elections, which is why the Party is moving left, generally. Democratic primary voters may be more pragmatic than Republicans, but they still want Democrats to be Democrats.
Also, with the public so polarized, Marginal Voter Theory works less well, and riling up the base is increased in effectiveness.
Depends on which side of what hill you live on relative to Elliot Bay and Boeing Field. Some of the hills are high enough that the radiation won’t roll over the top and into the valley beyond.
Actually, no… in the 1970s, the Southern Baptists and many other evangelicals considered abortion a regrettable thing, but something that should be left to the individual’s conscience. Abortion only became one of their principle political causes in the 1980s. Fred Clark who blogs as Slacktivis at Patheos has traced this change to anger at Jimmy Carter removing tax breaks for segregated academies, leading many evangelicals to make common cause with conservative Catholics: “we’ll support your cause (abortion) if you support ours (segregation).” So like many things in America, this one comes down to race.
I’ll post Clark’s links outlining this in a separate comment.
@Kylopod: Here are the links:
@Kylopod: Here are the links:
@Kylopod: Actually, if you want one post that summarizes Clark’s arguments, this would be it:
@Monala: The paper you cite refutes the claim that abortion represented the prime issue that helped launch the Christian Right. But I never made that claim; all I said was that many voters changed their party affiliation over this issue. (My locating this process strictly in the ’70s may have been too limiting; it was a gradual process.) There’s a lot of research to support this statement (here, for instance). I’m well aware that the SBC and other evangelical groups actually supported Roe when it was first handed down. The pro-life movement was originally dominated not by evangelicals but by Catholics.
Regardless of the history, there’s no question that today, abortion is a deeply important issue to a large segment of conservative voters, many of whom are willing to vote for a Democrat whom they perceive as representing their values, as evidenced by the success of culturally conservative Democrats who have won office in red states.