A new poll shows that former judge Roy Moore has a landslide-size lead in the runoff to decide which Republican faces the Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama’s special Senate election. The poll by JMC Analytics found that Moore currently has a lead of almost 20 points over Luther Strange, the sitting Senator appointed to fill the seat of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The poll, which contacted Alabamans from across the state, found that 51 percent of respondents who were considering voting in the runoff favored Moore. Thirty-two percent planned to vote for Strange with 17 percent undecided.
The big surprise from the poll was how ineffective the Republican endorsements of Strange have been. President Trump carried Alabama with 62 percent of the vote last year, but his endorsement of Strange seems to have had no net effect at all. The poll found that 51 percent said that Trump’s endorsement made no difference. The remainder were split almost evenly between those who said that Trump’s endorsement helped Strange (25 percent) and those who said it hurt him (23 percent).
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) fared even worse. Forty-six percent said McConnell’s endorsement made no difference while 45 percent said it made them less likely to support Strange. Only 10 percent seemed to value McConnell’s endorsement.
Sixty-eight percent self-identified as evangelical Christians. Roy Moore, who is considered a hero by many Christians for his battles to keep a monument to the Ten Commandments in the State Supreme Court building and for his refusal to uphold the Supreme Court ruling instituting same-sex marriage, has a definite advantage among Christian voters. The poll shows Moore with 58 percent support among evangelicals.
Luther Strange has been bedeviled by several corruption scandals. Strange, the former attorney general of Alabama, was appointed to the Senate by Gov. Robert Bentley who was forced to resign in disgrace. Strange, who was in charge of the investigation into Bentley’s extramarital affair and the ensuing cover-up and abuses of power, has been accused of delaying the impeachment proceedings against the former governor.
Strange and many other Alabama politicians also took donations from two companies that are accused of paying outright bribes to state legislator Oliver Robinson. The $360,000 in bribes were associated with an Alabama coal company’s attempt to avoid paying for the EPA cleanup of a toxic site.
Finally, Strange s the subject of an investigation into two felony campaign finance violations. An ethics hearing was originally scheduled for August 2, but was moved to August 16, the day after the initial primary election.
Moore was the top finisher in the first round of polling with 38 percent to Strange’s 32 percent. Pre-election polling had showed the two men in a virtual dead heat. Since neither candidate received a majority, a runoff was scheduled for Sept. 26. The general election will be on Dec. 12.
The new poll was conducted among 515 likely voters and the margin of error is 4.3 percent.