With a slew of new polling results published in recent days, Roy Moore seems to have regained his pre-predator polling edge over Doug Jones in the December 12 Alabama Senate election. The most recently published poll, from JMC Analytics, gives Moore 49% of the vote, with Jones receiving support from 44% of those polled.
The most recent 5 opinion polls, all conducted since November 20, show Roy Moore with a daylight lead on Doug Jones. The JMC Analytics poll includes some interesting data points which illuminate some of the foundations of this shift in voter sentiment back toward Moore, which we’ll cover.
For the moment, I’d like to make 2 specific points about the polling trendlines: (1) Moore’s average/median leads in polls have remained only a few percentage points above the margin of error for these polls; and (2) all of the polling organizations conducting multiple surveys show a measurable shift toward Doug Jones of about 4 percentage points since September (click to view polling data).
I’d also like to emphasize that landline polling methods in these Alabama surveys dramatically underweight younger and more urban populations more likely to support Doug Jones. Finally, Steve Bannon’s return to the state next week to campaign for Roy Moore, along with the likelihood (bordering on certainty) that Roy Moore revelations will continue to float to the surface, indicate the best (and worst) of this benighted election remain ahead of us.
- Pre-Predator Polls (September 8 – November 6). In 10 polls conducted prior to the sexual allegations against Roy Moore, his advantage over Doug Jones ranges from 0% to 22%, with an average lead of 10% and a median of 8%.
- Predator Polls (November 9 – November 16). In the 8 surveys taken the week after publication of the Washington Post investigation, Doug Jones claimed an advantage of between 3% and 12% in 5 of the polls, with Roy Moore ahead by 6% and 10% in 2 other surveys, and 1 poll a dead heat. The average of these polls gives Jones a lead of 2%, while the median is a 4% advantage.
- Post-Predator Polls (November 20 – November 28). In the 5 polls published since November 20, as allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior swept through media and political institutions, Roy Moore’s lead over Jones has fluctuated between 2% and 7%, with an average of 5% and a median of 5%.
- Conclusion. Roy Moore has regained some of his pre-predator advantage over Doug Jones, but not all of it, with an average/median lead for Moore of 10/8% through November 6, swinging to average/median lead for Jones of 2/4% through November 16, and returning to an average/median lead for Moore of 5/5% since November 20.
This lead places Roy Moore several points beyond the margin of error, but Doug Jones continues to have several reasons to be excited about his prospects.
- Telephone Landlines. Most of the polls rely upon telephone landlines, which skew the outcomes toward older and more rural residents of the state. Younger and more urban residents are far less likely to support Roy Moore and the extremely primitive brand of evangelical Christianity he espouses. For example, 77% of those surveyed by JMC Analytics are aged 55 or older, which hardly seems like a solid basis for extrapolating to a demographically representative voting population (on the generic ballot, voters under 55 years old are about 15 percentage points less likely to vote for Moore).
- Consistent Movement Toward Doug Jones. The polls individually show movement toward Doug Jones among the Alabama electorate. Consider the following percentage point moves toward Jones in polling outcomers from the 6 organizations that have conducted multiple surveys: Emerson College (40%=>47%); JMC Analytics (40%=>44%); Fox News (42%=>50%); Fox10 News (41%=>43%); Raycom News Network (40%=>45%); Change Research (46%=>44%). The average move toward Doug Jones for these organizations is 4%.
- Roy Moore Is Batshit Crazy. Obviously, being batshit crazy doesn’t disqualify anyone from running the world these days. But Roy Moore runs really rancid, and his gothic sensibilities are a gift that just keeps on giving. The latest exhibit would be the course materials Roy Moore prepared for Vision Forum that states women should be excluded from public office, and that Christians have a moral obligation not to vote for women who do run for public office. Vision Forum, the Texas organization that produced these course materials, shut down in 2013 after its leader, Doug Phillips, admitted to having an extra-marital relationship with a younger woman that extended over the course of many years.
- Bannon/Trump = Alien/Predator. Roy Moore has adopted the Bannon/Trump strategy of denying allegations, ignoring issues, doubling down on his opposition, and further rousing the mania of his base. And clearly this strategy could work. Indeed, 29% of those surveyed by JMC Analytics said the allegations against Moore made them more likely to vote for him. But with Steve Bannon likely to campaign in person for Roy Moore about culture war matters such as aliens and immigration, and Donald Trump aligning himself with Moore as a fellow victim of Hillary-inspired harlots and strumpets, it is worth pointing out that the JMC Analytics poll shows an ever-shrinking level of support for Trump in Alabama (certainly compared to his election numbers), while Bannon – an unreconstructed Catholic medievalist – has never been fully in synch with Alabama evangelicals (who tilt more toward Drudge Report).