A poll released by JMC Analytics on Sunday shows that both of the two leading contenders for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in Alabama lead incumbent Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) beyond the margin of error in a hypothetical general election matchup.
Former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville leads Jones by seven points, 47 percent to 40 percent margin.
Former Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who resigned from the U.S. Senate in 2017 to serve as President Trump’s first Attorney General before resigning under pressure from that job in November 2018, leads Jones by five points, 46 percent to 41 percent.
The poll of 525 registered voters was conducted between December 16 and December 18 and has a margin of error of 4.3 percent.
The Republican primary to select a nominee to challenge Jones in November’s general election will be held in a little more than two months on March 3.
Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL) also leads Jones by 44 percent to 40 percent, which is within the poll’s 4.3 percent margin of error.
Republican 2017 nominee Roy Moore, who was narrowly defeated by Jones in a special election after he became mired in personal controversies and lost the support of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), trails Jones by a hefty 14 points, 47 percent to 33 percent.
A poll released by the Sessions campaign earlier this month showed that he has a significant lead in the Republican primary, with 44 percent of the vote, followed by Tuberville with 21 percent, Byrne with 14 percent.
Republican Roy Moore is in a distant fourth with seven percent.
That poll of 700 likely Republican primary voters was conducted between December 3 and 5 by On Message Inc.
Sessions entered the race to regain his old seat in November, after much speculation about his future, given his rough exit from the Trump administration.
Dale Jackson of Yellowhammer, the Alabama political news site, wrote after the poll’s release:
Sessions continues to be the front runner in this race with a long history and name ID. Those vying to catch him are going to need to figure out a way to target him and knock him down a few points or he could win without a runoff.
An earlier poll of Republican primary voters conducted by Cygnal in June, before Sessions entered the race, showed Tuberville in first place with 29 percent of the vote and Byrne in second place with 21 percent.
A winner will not be declared in the March 3 Republican primary unless one candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote.
In the event no candidate receives that majority, a runoff election will be held between the top two finishers to determine who will take on Jones in the November general election.
Most Republicans in the state are predicting that, regardless of who wins the primary, the party will unify around the winner to defeat Jones in November.