Romney Has 10 Point Lead in Alabama?!

A poll commissioned by the Alabama Education Association shows Mitt Romney with a rather surprising 10 point lead in the Heart of Dixie.

A poll commissioned by the Alabama Education Association shows Mitt Romney with a rather surprising 10 point lead in the Heart of Dixie.

Six days out from Alabama’s GOP presidential primary, a new poll shows former Gov. Mitt Romney with a 10 point lead over Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.

The poll, conducted by the polling are of the Alabama Education Association, showed Romney with 31.2 percent, Santorum with 21.6 percent and Gingrich with 21.2 percent.

Congressman Ron Paul came in at just over 6 percent of the vote.

Almost 20 percent of the people surveyed said they were undecided.

I don’t have details of the polling methodology but RealClear Politics indicates that it’s a sample of likely voters, which is much more useful than a poll of adults or even registered voters. While it’s hard to believe that Romney, widely seen as having trouble appealing to conservative evangelical voters, could be leading in Alabama, which fashions itself as the buckle of the Bible Belt, it’s not shocking when one looks closely and sees that Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are almost dead even. Clearly, if this poll is even close to being an accurate reflection, Alabama’s evangelicals a torn between Santorum and Gingrich.

Both candidates have been urging the other to get out and give Republican primary voters a single “conservative” alternative to Romney. But neither has a particularly compelling case as to why they should be the one to stay nor a particularly compelling reason to drop out. While Santorum has won more states–by far–he actually has fewer delegates than Gingrich. And both have plenty of Super PAC money to sustain their campaign indefinitely.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Quick Takes, 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. There’s always reason to be skeptical of polls commissioned by groups with a partisan agenda, but as I noted yesterday, Romney does seem to be more competitive in Alabama than one might have expected. In addition to this, Romney is getting endorsements from top level GOPers in Mississippi. If he manages to pull off a victory in one or both states, then one would think that would be the end of this

  2. PJ says:

    @James Joyner:

    I don’t have details of the polling methodology but RealClear Politics indicates that it’s a sample of likely voters, which is much more useful than a poll of adults or even registered voters.

    This isn’t about likely voters vs adults or registered voters.
    This is about the fact that if the confidence level for poll is 95% (which is the level used by major pollsters), then in 1 in 20 polls the true results won’t be within the margin of error.

    This poll is most likely an outlier, no other polling show a 10 point lead for Romney in Alabama.

  3. Fiona says:

    Looks like Romney could well benefit from the fact that both Santorum and Gingrich remain in the race. If they split the conservative, evangelical vote, Romney could well waltz out the winner in both Alabama and Mississippi (albeit I doubt he’ll win by 10 points).

    Should this be the outcome, Romney will have Sheldon Adelson to thank.

  4. James Joyner says:

    @PJ: The two most recent polls show a substantial Romney lead, with Santorum and Gingrich vying for second place. I don’t think this is random noise–it’s an establishment candidate up against two prominent “conservatives.” While Gingrich hasn’t done well anywhere else, he’s done quite well in his home state of Georgia and contiguous South Carolina. Alabama, likewise, borders Georgia.

  5. PJ says:

    @James Joyner:

    The two most recent polls show a substantial Romney lead, with Santorum and Gingrich vying for second place.

    I see two polls by Capital Survey Research Center with a significant lead for Romney, and those are two three day polls that share two days of data. (March 1, 5-6) and (March 5-7).

  6. Nightrider says:

    Don’t forget Romney won two of SC’s three largest metro areas (Columbia and Charleston). I don’t have any data but am guessing Alabama has more of that sort of metro vote than MS.

  7. PD Shaw says:

    As I commented in Doug’s post, if you look at the 2008 Alabama primary, its not unlikely to expect Romney to get at least 30% of the votes, if he’s able to build on his previous support and take some of McCain’s:

    Huckabee: 41%
    McCain: 37%
    Romney: 18%
    Paul: 3%

    I think there is more uncertainty about how Gingrich and Santorum finish.