Roy Moore Trails In First Post-Announcement Poll

In the first poll since he entered the race, Roy Moore finds himself in third place in the race for the 2020 Republican Nomination for Senate in Alabama.

It’s been just about a week since former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who lost the 2017 Special Election to succeed Jeff Sessions in the Senate to Democrat Doug Jones, entered the race for the GOP nomination in 2020. If the first poll since Moore’s entry is any indication, he’s going to have his work cut out for him:

Alabama Republicans are showing little appetite for giving former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore another shot at winning a U.S. Senate seat, two years after he blew what should have been a gimme election in the ruby-red state after being embroiled in a sordid personal scandal.

A new survey from the Alabama-based polling firm Cygnal shows Moore taking just 13 percent of the vote in the Republican primary. He trails former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, who leads with 29 percent, and Rep. Bradley Byrne (R), who has 21 percent.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R), who launched his campaign Tuesday, begins with 12 percent of the vote. State Rep. Arnold Mooney (R) takes 2 percent, and 22 percent of voters say they are undecided. 

Almost two-thirds of Republican voters say they have an unfavorable impression of Moore, while just 28 percent see him in a favorable light. Nearly a third of Republican voters, 31 percent, say they would consider voting for Sen. Doug Jones (D) in November if Moore captures the Senate nomination.

Tuberville, who coached Auburn’s football team from 1999 until 2008, is the best-known Republican candidate in the field. More than half, 56 percent, of Republican primary voters say they have a favorable impression of the coach, and just 17 percent see him unfavorably.

Tuberville’s early strength among Republican voters is high, especially because the Republican electorate is so heavily tilted toward Auburn’s in-state rival, the University of Alabama. More than half, 53 percent, of Alabama Republicans said they were Crimson Tide fans, while just 23 percent back the Auburn Tigers. Tuberville’s Tigers beat Alabama six consecutive times during his run as head coach. 

This poll is a contrast to one taken roughly two months ago when Moore was still mulling a second bid for the Senate, that showed him leading the rest of the GOP field albeit not sufficiently to avoid a runoff election. It also comes in the wake another recent poll that showed Moore with 18% of the vote, putting him in second place behind Tuberville, with Congressman Bradley Byrne in third place at 16% and the rest of the candidates under the double-digit line. It’s also worth noting that 22% of respondents remain undecided in the new poll, suggesting that the race, which is of course in its very early stages, is still wide open.

Nonetheless, this initial highly negative reaction to Moore’s entry into the race should give comfort to Republicans concerned that the situation in Alabama could have an impact on the battle for control of the Senate. As I’ve noted in the past, the GOP already faces the danger of losing seats in Colorado and Arizona, which means that flipping Alabama back to the Republican Party is a high priority goal. Ordinarily, it would seem that this would be an easy task, especially in a Presidential election year. This is a state that President Trump won overwhelmingly in 2016, a feat he is likely to repeat in 2020. This means that it is going to be difficult if not impossible for Doug Jones to hold on to his seat given the fact that Trump will be at the top of the ticket. The only thing that would potentially change that would be if Moore somehow managed to win the nomination again. In that case, we’d be likely to see a significant number of Republican voters cross over and support Jones, perhaps enough for him to pull off another probable win. If the nominee is anyone other than Moore, then Jones is going to instantly become the most vulnerable Senate Democrat in the 2020 field.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. gVOR08 says:

    Moore’s not running for the seat, he’s running for the contributions.

  2. James Joyner says:

    I put the odds at Moore winning the nomination at zero. He’s toast. He lost the general election because Republicans either stayed home or crossed over to vote against him. It was only somewhat close because the child molestation charges came out too late to get him off the ticket and putting a Democrat in to work against Trump’s policy initiatives—and perhaps vote against his judicial nominees—was the alternative.

  3. @James Joyner:

    He lost, but it wasn’t a rout. He ended up getting 48% of the vote statewide even with the assault and harassment allegations hanging out there.

    That being said, I don’t think the GOP is going to be dumb enough to make the same mistake twice. That means the race will likely end up being between Tuberville and Bradley Byrne. This being Alabama with its devotion to football, I’d give Tuberville the edge in that fight especially since Byrne doesn’t seem to be that popular among his fellow Republicans.

  4. MarkedMan says:

    If you believe in the God of Prayer then please get to work and ask him to convince Moore to run third party if he loses the primary.

  5. grumpy realist says:

    @MarkedMan: Wouldn’t seem to be that hard–the man has an ego like The Fat Mango.

  6. James Joyner says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    He lost, but it wasn’t a rout. He ended up getting 48% of the vote statewide even with the assault and harassment allegations hanging out there.

    Sure. But Jeff Sessions, whose seat he was running to fill, got 97.25% of the vote in 2014 (no Democrat bothered to run) and 63.36% of the vote in 2008. It was a next-to-impossible election for Republicans to lose but they managed because Moore was so loathesome.

  7. Kylopod says:

    In that case, we’d be likely to see a significant number of Republican voters cross over and support Jones

    That isn’t really what happened that enabled Jones to eke out his narrow win. Per CNN’s exit polls, he got only 8% of the Republican vote. That’s actually twice as much as Jeff Sessions’ Democratic opponent got in 2008. But the biggest shift from 2008 came from independents and Democrats: Jones won a majority of independents, a group that had voted overwhelmingly for Sessions, and only 2% of Democrats supported Moore, whereas Sessions won 21% of the Democratic vote.

    (I’m not including Sessions’ 2014 race because he ran unopposed.)

    Jones’ upset victory was more due to an excited Democratic base that normally doesn’t bother to vote, depressed Republican turnout, and the fleeing of independents, than the defection of a tiny percentage of Republicans.

  8. Teve says:

    He lost, but it wasn’t a rout. He ended up getting 48% of the vote statewide even with the assault and harassment allegations hanging out there.

    Sure. But Jeff Sessions, whose seat he was running to fill, got 97.25% of the vote in 2014 (no Democrat bothered to run)

    Sounds like about half of the people who voted for Sessions are…deplorable.

  9. Gustopher says:

    Perhaps he should try reaching out to people over the age of 14.

  10. David S. says:

    @Teve: That’s the kind of conclusion drawn when you look at percentages and assume they’re percentages of the same whole. I’d be willing to bet raw numbers of vote counts are significantly different.

  11. CSK says:

    God, he’s repulsive.