Judge Roy Moore, the conservative candidate for the U.S. Senate in Alabama, has a commanding lead in yet another poll in the home stretch, now continuing to tower over Washington establishment-backed Luther Strange by eight points.
Moore has a solid 47 percent up against Strange’s 39 percent, with 13 percent undecided, in the latest JMC Analytics survey of 500 likely Alabama U.S. Senate GOP primary runoff voters in the upcoming September 26 runoff election.
When those who are leaning one way or another are included, Moore’s number rises to 50 percent, while Strange’s rises to 42 percent with 8 percent undecided — meaning his eight-point-spread holds either way. The survey’s margin of error is 4.4 percent, which means Moore’s lead is well outside that and holds strong heading into the final full week of the campaign. The poll was provided to Breitbart News on Sunday evening ahead of its Monday morning release.
What’s more, the survey was conducted from Sept. 16 to Sept. 17 — on Saturday and Sunday, this weekend — which means the poll was done at least in part after President Donald Trump announced plans to visit Alabama to campaign for Strange. Trump endorsed Strange in the first round of voting, back before the August 15 primary, but has done nothing for him since then until Saturday when he tweeted that he was visiting Alabama to campaign for Strange in the home stretch.
Trump had cooled on Strange after the first round as Strange has aligned himself with anti-Trump interests, including hiring vehemently anti-Trump Karl Rove’s ex-chief of staff Kristin Davison and accepting help from the anti-Trump Senate Leadership Fund — run by another Rove ally Steven Law — and the anti-Trump U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
President Trump despises Rove, having told Breitbart News in April 2016 that he thinks Rove is a “dishonorable guy” who should not be allowed to write for the Wall Street Journal. Trump has viewed Strange’s hiring of Davison, Rove’s ex-chief of staff, and his cozying up to Senate Leadership Fund — which is run by Law, who has been at Rove’s side at American Crossroads for years and associated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — as personal insults against him, White House aides have told Breitbart News.
Nonetheless, since President Trump endorsed Strange the first time around, he feels an obligation to campaign for him despite the fact that Strange stands in the way of much of the president’s agenda, including on immigration and until recently changing the U.S. Senate rules to drop the 60-vote threshold to pass legislation.
Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, on the other hand, has been an ardent defender of the agenda that President Trump campaigned on in 2016, even publicly endorsing the RAISE Act which would cut legal immigration levels in half every year. The bill, from Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and David Perdue (R-GA), has been endorsed by President Trump and the White House — but Strange consistently and repeatedly has refused to support the legislation since his open borders allies at the Chamber of Commerce and in Rove’s inner circle will not allow him to do so.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, will campaign for Moore in Alabama this week, as Breitbart News first reported. And many of Trump’s allies and top conservatives, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee — the father of White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders — as well as Fox News’ Sean Hannity, House Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), and more have endorsed Moore over Strange.
Strange’s campaign strategy, a source close to him told Breitbart News, in the next few days, is to keep relying on deceptively edited dishonest and inaccurate attack ads against Moore from the Senate Leadership Fund and others to try to tighten the race a little more.
Then, on Thursday night at the debate between Moore and Strange, Strange reportedly intends to try to draw blood from Moore by attacking him again. And he hopes the race is close by Saturday night when Trump intends to campaign with him in Huntsville. Strange hopes the Trump endorsement gives his lagging and low-energy campaign a much-needed boost and that Trump blocks out the sun in terms of media coverage for the final few days heading into election day a week from Tuesday.
The entire strategy, however, is fraught with peril and risk. The attack ads against Moore have barely worked in the last month since the first round of voting, per JMC Analytics polling.
Strange has only picked up seven points from the pollster’s last survey conducted about a month ago just after the first round of voting, moving from 32 percent up to 39 percent — still under 40 percent. Moore has only dropped four points from 51 percent down to 47 percent. That means a month with millions of dollars of negative ads pummeling Moore just like the GOP establishment — and then the Democrats — pummeled Trump in 2016 with similar onslaughts of ads has not worked well enough to give Strange much of a chance on Sept. 26.
Trump’s endorsement, which he made with a series of tweets and robo-calls in Alabama for Strange in the first round of voting, along with millions upon millions of dollars of support from Washington, was not enough to deliver Strange a victory in the first round either.
What’s more, JMC Analytics pollster John Couvillon told Breitbart News that it does not appear President Trump’s endorsement or his decision to campaign for Strange next weekend will move the needle much at all.
“President Trump has weighed in with a last minute endorsement of Senator Strange (while third place finisher, Congressman ‘Mo’ Brooks endorsed Moore), but it is not clear that Trump’s endorsement will make a substantial difference: the last poll conducted by JMC Analytics found that only 25% of respondents would be more likely to support the senator for this reason, while 23% would be less likely, and for 51%, Trump’s endorsement would make no difference in their vote,” Couvillon said in an email.
Couvillon’s JMC Analytics was the closest to accurate in terms of polling in the Alabama special election for the U.S. Senate this year in the first round. About eight days out from the Aug. 15 primary first round of voting, Couvillon’s firm nailed the spread between Moore and Strange — and correctly got the exact percent by which third-place finisher Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) would come in.
That last JMC Analytics poll, out a little more than a week before the primary’s first round, had Moore at 30 percent, Strange at 22 percent, and Brooks at 19 percent. Brooks ended up with 19 percent exactly, and the spread between Moore and Strange — which Couvillon had within two percent — ended up being eight points. Moore finished with 38.9 percent and Strange with 32.8 percent. That spread was 6.1 percent, almost exactly what Couvillon had it at.
Now that Brooks has endorsed Moore, as has fourth-place finisher state Sen. Trip Pittman, Moore has the support of 65.5 percent of the actual electorate based on the totals on Aug. 15 of his final vote count, Brooks’ final vote count, and Pittman’s final vote count. Even with a Trump rally, it seems unlikely that Strange can turn the tide — especially since most of the president’s supporters in the state are breaking for Moore.
In his analysis of the latest data, Couvillon of JMC Analytics said that Moore’s lead holds strong despite the attack ads pointing to a favorable outcome for Moore in a little over a week.
“There are three main takeaways from this poll: (1) while the race has tightened since the August 15 primary, Roy Moore still has a respectable lead, (2) the evangelical support which has powered Moore’s candidacy has largely remained with the former Chief Justice, and (3) despite recent controversial remarks Moore has made, an absolute majority of likely Alabama runoff voters believe he is qualified to serve as a United States senator,” Couvillon wrote:
On the ballot test, the race has tightened across the board, although Moore still leads by eight points, regardless of whether or not undecided “leaners” are included. Evangelicals (despite some slippage) remain behind his candidacy by a 55-34% margin, although non-evangelicals (who in the last poll were more evenly divided) support Strange 52-32%. Furthermore, the gender gap has widened a bit since the last poll from five to seven points (eight points if leaners are included), but this gap only marginally benefits Sen. Strange.
Geographically, Couvillon wrote, it appears as though urban areas are in a tight race while rural areas are breaking hard for Moore. What’s more, in Huntsville — where Trump is heading to campaign for Strange — voters are much more likely to support Moore. Since this poll was conducted in part after Trump announced his plans to rally for Strange in Huntsville, the fact that Strange may not be warmly received there is not good news for the president ahead of his trip to Alabama.
“There also appears to be an urban/rural split forming: the Mobile and Birmingham media markets show a tighter race, while Moore has larger leads in the other media markets,” Couvillon wrote. “Most importantly, in the Huntsville media market (the electoral base of Congressman ‘Mo’ Brooks, who just endorsed Moore), Moore has a wide 51-36% lead.”
Overall, too, the race does not seem to be showing any signs of breaking Strange’s way even among those not decided yet — but Strange would need to “run the tables” with undecided voters to win — so Strange is going to need a miracle to pull this off.
“Those patterns of support largely remain even if undecided leaners are included; most importantly, with ‘leaners’ included, Moore hits 50% support,” Couvillon wrote:
Negative messaging about both Moore and Senator Strange were also tested. Respondents were evenly divided on whether Senator Strange “was part of the Washington DC swamp,” but a solid 52-36% majority thought that Moore was qualified to serve as US Senator, despite his recent controversial remarks. There is a fairly strong correlation between the responses to these two messaging questions and candidate support: those who think Strange is “part of the swamp” support Moore 80-12%. Conversely, those who don’t support Strange 77-14%. The 28% who are undecided on this question support Moore 47-28%, and it is this group that enables Moore to maintain his lead in the race. On Moore’s being qualified to be Senator, the correlation is even stronger: those who believe Moore is qualified support Moore 82-9%. Those who don’t believe Moore is qualified support Strange 82-6%.
Couvillon continued: “Those undecided on this question support Strange 43-19%, but 38% are undecided – if Senator Strange wants to have a fighting chance, he needs to ‘run the tables’ among those who are undecided on Moore’s qualifications. In summary, while the race has tightened since the beginning of the runoff, former Chief Justice Roy Moore remains ahead thanks to his bedrock support among evangelicals.”