A new Emerson College Poll of Alabama finds that over the past two weeks, incumbent Senator Luther Strange has gained ground in his battle with challenger Roy Moore just two days before the September 26 runoff. Moore still leads Strange 50% to 40%, but the gap has narrowed. Strange trailed Moore by 14 points two weeks ago in Emerson’s previous Alabama poll.
President Trump’s ardent support of Luther Strange in the recent weeks is the likely cause of the gap closing. Voters in Alabama give President Trump a 61% favorable opinion and 32% unfavorable opinion, but of likely GOP Alabama primary voters, Trump’s popularity soars to 80% favorable. However, even among Trump’s supporters, Moore has razor-thin lead 49%-47%, a significant improvement for Strange since the last Emerson poll, in which Moore led among Trump supporters 51% to 32%.
Supporters of Republican Congressman Mo Brooks, who won 20% of the vote in the GOP primary in August, are backing Moore, 67% as compared to 21% for Strange. This surge in support for Moore by Brooks’ voters (two weeks ago, the group was split fairly evenly) is probably a product of Brooks’ endorsement of Moore, which was concurrent with Trump’s vocal support and endorsement of Strange. Further evidence of the strength of Brooks’ endorsement is evident in his 5th Congressional District, breaking for Moore 69% to 22%.
Neither of the Republican candidates for Senate fare as well with Alabama voters as the President. Roy Moore is underwater with a 43% approval rating and 46% disapproval; Luther Strange has a 33% approval and 52% disapproval among those polled. Democratic candidate Doug Jones, the opponent of the GOP winner in the Dec. 12 General Election has a 27% approval and 26% disapproval among voters, although, 33% of voters have no opinion of the former U.S. Attorney; 14% have never even heard of Jones.
Jones has lost ground in the general election matchup since Emerson’s last poll. Moore leads Jones in a hypothetical match-up 52% to 30%, with the rest undecided. Jones fares better against Strange. The GOP incumbent Senator leads Jones in a hypothetical match-up 49% to 36%. Two weeks ago, Jones was in a statistical tie with both Republicans. The widening lead for both the GOP candidates possibly reflects the party slowly unifying behind the two Republican rivals. In the last poll, each GOP candidate received roughly a third of each other’s support in a general election match up against Democratic Jones. In this poll each of the GOP candidates receive close to half of the supporters of their GOP rival in the Dec. election matchup. If the party continues to unify, the path to victory will be difficult for Jones.
The Emerson College Polling Society, under the supervision of Professor Spencer Kimball presents these findings based on a poll of Likely Voters in Alabama, for the Republican Special Runoff Election on September 26, 2017 and of all registered voters for the December 12 Special General Election. All respondents interviewed in this study were part of a fully representative sample using an area probabilistic sample of registered voters from Aristotle International. The overall sample size was N = 519 with a margin of error of +/- 4.3 percentage points in 19 of 20 cases. In the Republican Primary the sample was n= 366 with a MOE of +/- 5.1 percentage points. It is important to remember that subsets based on gender, age, congressional district and party breakdowns carry with them higher margins of error, as the sample size is reduced. Data was collected using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines only and was conducted September 21-23, 2017. This survey uses statistical weighting procedures to account for deviations in the survey sample from known population characteristics, which helps correct for differential survey participation and random variation in samples. The overall adult sample is weighted to recent Census and voting behavior data using a sample balancing procedure to match the demographic makeup with age and gender. Margins of sampling error for this survey are not adjusted for design effect.