Alabama Horse Race: Tracking Senate Election Polls (as of December 4, 2017)

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Let’s isolate trends from the 2 most recent Alabama election polls. The raw polling numbers have limited value outside of these trends! The cross-tabulations, which break down the answers to each question by demographic category, are also extremely useful.

Emerson College Poll (Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 2017) – 500 very likely voters – MoE +/- 4.3%)

Trendlines – Emerson College has published 5 polls since early September, and 3 since early November, when news of the Roy Moore sexual allegations broke. Roy Moore’s lead has shrunk in every poll since late September. Just ptior to his defeat of Luther Strange in the Republic Party runoff election, Roy Moore held a 22% lead over Doug Jones in the Emerson poll conducted between September 21-23. In the November 9-11 poll, conducted just as voters were beginning to process stories of the women reporting Moore’s advances on them as teenagers, he continued to lead Jones by 10%. In its November 26-27 poll, likely voters indicated that Moore held a 6% advantage over Jones. Finally, the November 30-December 2 poll, which included the write-in candidacy of Lee Busby, revealed that Moore’s lead over Jones had shrunk to 3%, with Busby taking 4% of the vote from Moore and 1% from Jones. The chart below clearly shows the trend.

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CBS News / You.gov Poll (Nov. 28-Dec. 1, 2017 – 1,067 registered voters – MoE +/- 3.8%)

The recent CBS News / You.gov poll gives Roy Moore a 49%-43% advantage over Democratic challenger, Roy Moore. Below, some insights into the intensity and distribution of opinions on the policies and reputations of the candidates. We’ll follow up separately with a breakdown of some terrific cross-tabular demographic data, which yields lots of information about exactly which demographic cohorts need to step up and step out for Doug Jones to pull off one of the most remarkable upsets in political memory.

Motivation

About 15% of the Alabama electorate voted in the primary elections earlier this summer. In a sign of the importance assigned to this campaign, 68% of the registered voters surveyed said they “definitely will vote,” while another 15% said they “probably will vote.” With 3 million registered voters in Alabama, turnout could exceed 2 million voters.

A significant number of the Roy Moore supporters are not passionate about their candidate, however, and will vote for him as a generic Republican, not because they like or trust him. Nearly half (48%) will vote for Moore because they “don’t want to vote for Doug Jones,” with slightly more than half (52%) casting their vote because they “like Roy Moore.” Only 48% think Roy Moore “is the best person for the job,” while 52% want a senator “who will cast conservative votes.”

By contrast, 67% of Doug Jones supporters will vote for him mainly because they “like Doug Jones,” with the major motivation for only 33% being that they “don’t want to vote for Roy Moore.”

National Politics

The bipolar Trump approval numbers in Alabama persist, with 57% approving Donald Trump’s presidential job performance and 43% disapproving, but within those cohorts, 36% strongly approving and 31% strongly disapproving, leaving only 33% in the center of the political spectrum.

For 30% of those surveyed, the Alabama Senate race offers the opportunity to vote “in support of Donald Trump,” suggesting more than half of motivated Republicans view this election as a mandate on their support for Trump and the MAGA agenda. Notably, only 11% view this election as a way to voice opposition to Donald Trump.

Issues

Among those polled, 70% rate the Alabama economy as “very good” or “fairly good,” an indication the lunch-bucket issues Doug Jones has tried to emphasize may be less important than the existential choices Trump’s election has pushed to the surface of American political life.

Roy Moore’s views on the role of religion in law and government are more polarizing than Doug Jones’s views on race and civil rights, with 52% finding Moore’s views “acceptable” and 37% viewing them as “unacceptable.” In comparison, 47% of those surveyed find Jones’s views “acceptable” and 37% judge them to be “unacceptable.”

On other hot button, “culture war” topics – abortion, same-sex marriage, and immigration – Alabama voters definitely swing with Roy Moore, but perhaps not by margins as extreme as one might assume. Approximately 55%-60% of surveyed voters oppose abortion, same-sex marriage, and immigration.

Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Alabama voters divide evenly in their assessment of sexual misconduct allegations leveled against Roy Moore by 8 different women, with 45% of those surveyed confident these allegations are “definitely” or “probably” true and 44% confident they are “definitely” or “probably” false.

More than 80% believe the allegations are serious, however, and nearly 80% say the allegations concern them, with 37% saying the controversy makes it more likely they will vote in the election. How they will vote in response to the allegations remains less, clear – as 30% of those surveyed say Mitch McConnell’s belief Roy Moore should withdraw his candidacy (since reversed, of course) makes them more likely to vote in the election.

Among the 45% of likely voters who do not believe the allegations, 90% (or 40% of all likely voters in the state) blame a conspiracy of media elites, Democrats, and people “seeking money or attention.”

Ideology

More Alabama voters identify themselves as Republicans than as Democrats – by a margin of 51%-36% – with 29% of likely voters identiying “strongly” as Republicans and only 24% identifying strongly as Democrats. The state tips even more strongly to conservative political views, with 49% describing their ideology as “very” or “somewhat” conservative, 26% describing their ideology as “moderate,” and only 19% describing their ideology as “very” or “somewhat” liberal.

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