A new poll shows former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore with a commanding lead over Luther Strange, the Washington establishment backed candidate, heading into the GOP primary runoff for the Alabama U.S. Senate seat left open this year.
The poll from JMC Analytics provided to Breitbart News ahead of its public release shows Moore with 51 percent, a majority, supporting him, while Strange trails nearly 20 points behind with just 32 percent—and 17 percent are undecided. Moore’s commanding lead comes after he outperformed polls to finish around 39 percent in a multi-way primary this past Tuesday. Strange finished the first round of voting with just under 33 percent, and this poll seems to indicate that Moore is the only candidate gaining more votes while Strange is stuck with a ceiling of what he got on primary day before the runoff.
See the polling in full by following the link here: Alabama Senate Republican Executive Summary Runoff Poll 1 (1)
Strange was appointed into the seat vacated by now Attorney General Jeff Sessions under questionable circumstances earlier this year by now former Gov. Robert Bentley. Strange was, at the time, the attorney general of Alabama and conducting an investigation into Bentley. Bentley was later forced to resign as a result of what Strange was investigating. His appointment-created incumbency, however, did little to help him in the first round of voting–and his powerful allies in Washington were unable to push him into first place in the first round of voting. Now that he is trailing significantly with just over a month to go before the runoff, with his opponent Moore securing for now a majority of the electorate, the future looks grim for Strange.
This latest JMC Analytics poll was conducted from August 17 to 19, with a 95 percent confidence interval and a 4.3 percent margin of error. That means Moore’s commanding lead with a majority of support in Alabama is far outside the margin of error in this poll, making him the clear GOP frontrunner walking into election day on September 26. The survey had 515 respondents.
In the primary’s first round, a group run by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s allies called Senate Leadership Fund spent nearly $10 million to back Strange with vicious attack ads against Moore and against fellow conservative Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL). The attack ads, filled with mostly false information, largely backfired since they—and a questionable endorsement from President Donald Trump—were not enough to get Strange across the finish line into first place. Normally, with that kind of money and an endorsement from the president himself, someone would finish in first place in a multi-way race.
This survey neither Trump’s endorsement nor McConnell’s backing is helping Strange much at all. When asked if Trump’s endorsement of Strange made respondents more or less likely to vote for him, 23 percent said less likely while 25 percent said more likely and 51 percent said no difference at all.
When asked if McConnell’s help with millions backing Strange made respondents more or less likely to vote for Strange, 45 percent said less likely while only 10 percent said more likely. Forty-six percent said no difference.
“There are three main takeaways from this poll: (1) former Chief Justice Roy Moore surges into an early runoff lead due to support from a substantial number of those who did not support either runoff contender in the August 15 primary, (2) evangelical support is fueling Moore’s initial runoff lead, and (3) both President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s endorsements are not helping Senator Strange,” JMC Analytics pollster John Couvillon wrote in his analysis of the data.
Couvillon’s last poll of the primary right before the first round of voting caught the trend of the race exactly right, as it showed Moore trending upwards into the 30s and Brooks right at 19 percent—where he finished—and it showed Strange struggling in deep second place. Brooks had tried to break out and the second place spot was trending his way until Trump’s endorsement of Strange stunted his growth and gave Strange a last-second boost to hold him in a far-distant embarrassing second-place finish.
Moore is winning almost everywhere statewide now, too, Couvillon writes, adding that he is also consolidating support from the other candidates in the first round of the race. In total, in addition to Brooks, the August 15 first round had a number of other candidates. Outside of Moore and Strange—the two who made the runoff—there is a whopping nearly 30 percent up for grabs. Interestingly, that also means that Strange—with an endorsement from Trump and more than $10 million spent on his behalf—was rejected by more than 67 percent of the Alabama GOP electorate.
“In the ballot test, Roy Moore has substantial leads across all of the state’s media markets except Mobile,” Couvillon writes now. “It also looks like the support of the defeated primary candidates has initially moved to Moore: not only did those supporting the ‘also rans’ say they support Moore 51-26%, but (to use a readily apparent example), ‘Mo’ Brooks’ Huntsville base has largely realigned itself with Moore, where he has a 52-29% lead. What also appears to be fueling Moore’s surge in post primary support is the substantial difference in support depending on whether the respondent self-identified as an evangelical Christian. Among that group, Moore has a 58-28% lead over Senator Strange, while among non-evangelicals, Strange has a narrow 42-39% lead.”
Despite this poll, this race is by no means over at this stage. McConnell’s allies are likely to, since they already dumped millions into backing Strange, go all in with tens of millions more.
“We congratulate Big Luther Strange for closing the gap in the final week and positioning himself well for the runoff,” Senate Leadership Fund’s Steven Law, an acolyte of the very anti-Trump Karl Rove, said in a statement on election night. “We are proud to have strongly supported President Trump’s number-one ally in this race, and we believe the President’s support will be decisive as we head into the next phase of this campaign, which Senator Strange will win in September.”
The next morning, Trump seemed to hedge his backing of Strange by congratulating both Moore and Strange via Twitter.
Congratulation to Roy Moore and Luther Strange for being the final two and heading into a September runoff in Alabama. Exciting race!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2017
It remains to be seen what the president may or may not do for Strange–or for Moore–moving forward ahead of the Sept. 26 runoff.