Roy Moore, left; Doug Jones, right
The Alabama special election to fill the vacated U.S. Senate seat of Jeff Sessions has arrived, but who’s ahead? With the exception of two recent polls, most of the polling leading into election day showed controversial Republican candidate Roy Moore ahead of Democrat Doug Jones.
(Note: Alabamans headed to the polls on December 12. You can read live election results and updates here.
Experts have cautioned that the December 12, 2017 race is tough to predict because of the small number of polls conducted in the race, because of the general oddities in the contest, and because there’s a larger margin for error generally in Senate races than in presidential elections. Moore has been accused of sexual overtures and, in one case, sexual contact with underage teens. He has fervently denied the accusations. President Donald Trump, who supported Moore’s primary opponent, the incumbent Luther Strange, is now endorsing Roy Moore, a former judge and state Supreme Court Justice who had already generated controversy in his home state over his incendiary comments and defiance over the removal of a Ten Commandments monument.
GettyRepublican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Alabama, Roy Moore speaks to supporters at an election-night rally on September 26 in Montgomery, Alabama.
The big unknown is turnout. There are so many variables in the race that, according to Politico, “The race is so peculiar and has so many variables that some pollsters are reluctant to say” who will win. Pollsters have found that Jones does best in traditional polling, whereas Moore fares better in automated and online polling, indicating that voters might hesitate to reveal their support for Moore to a live person, according to Politico. FiveThirtyEight also stressed caution when trying to predict the race. “There’s a massive spread in results from poll to poll — with surveys on Monday morning showing everything from a 9-point lead for Moore to a 10-point advantage for Democrat Doug Jones,” the site reported, also chalking it up in part to the different polling formats and how each candidate performs with them.
GettyDoug and Louise Jones.
The RealClearPolitics polling average shows that Moore retained a 2.2 percentage point polling average lead over Moore as election day arrived. However, one anomalous poll was raising eyebrows; a Fox News poll from December 7 through December 10 found Jones ahead by 10 percentage points. A poll by Monmouth showed the race tied. Other recent polls all showed Moore with a fairly comfortable lead.
Here’s a round up of the latest polls in the Moore/Jones Senate race:
Fox News (12/7-12/10)
Trafalgar Group (12/6-12/7)
WBRC-TV/Strategy Research (12/4)
CBS News/YouGov (11/28-12/1)
Washington Post (11/27-11/30)
JMC Analysis (11/27-11/28)
See a chart tracking polling in the race historically here.