When news of Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore’s alleged sexual misconduct with a minor came out on Nov. 9, Alabama party leaders stood by Moore, claiming the alternative of electing Democrat Doug Jones was unacceptable and defending Moore’s actions.
Alabama voters aren’t so sure about that.
In a poll taken by Decision Desk after the release of the Washington Post story about Moore’s allegations, Jones has surged to a statistical tie with Moore, with 46.4 percent backing Moore and 46.0 percent backing Jones, putting the race well within the 4.3 percent margin of error.
Alabama hasn’t elected a Democrat to the United States Senate since Howell Heflin was voted to Washington in 1990. He retired at the end of his term in 1996 and was replaced by Republican Jeff Sessions, who held this seat until resigning to become Donald Trump’s attorney general, necessitating the special election.
According to the poll, 82 percent of Alabama voters had heard about the allegations and 35 percent of voters in the Yellowhammer State believe that he should drop out as a result of them, with another 11 percent unsure. Republican leaders at the national level have called for Moore to drop out of the race, but state leaders have held firm in their support of Moore.
Despite GOP support for Moore in Alabama, residents aren’t rushing to embrace him. 58 percent of respondents in the poll were self-identified Republicans, yet 46 percent were willing to support Jones in a two-man race, suggesting that at least some Republicans are willing to cross over because of distaste for Moore. This marked a six-point improvement for Jones over a previous poll, which had Moore ahead 50 percent to 44 percent.
The poll also found that some enthusiasm exists for Luther Strange, who was defeated in the Republican primary, as 12 percent said they would support him if he ran as a write-in candidate.
But the enthusiasm for Strange also highlighted a problem for the Republicans if Moore stays on the ballot. In a race where Strange is involved, 41.3 percent of voters said they would still support Moore. That total would then no longer be good enough to beat Jones, who saw his total fall to 43.6 percent.
Moore, for his part, has shown no signs of willingness to drop out of the race and support a write-in candidate in his stead. On Nov. 9, he issued a statement calling the Washington Post’s story “baseless” and a “desperate political attack.”
The poll found that among evangelical Christians, Moore holds a lead of 21 points over Jones, as 57.9 percent of evangelicals were willing to continue to support Moore compared to 37.4 percent for Jones. When Strange was added to the poll, he took 13 percent of evangelicals, compared to 50 percent for Moore and 34 percent for Jones.
That’s an issue that the Democrat would have to overcome to pull off the victory, as 49 percent of adults in Alabama consider themselves to be evangelicals.