A Fox News poll released yesterday evening shows Democrat Doug Jones running neck-and-neck with culture warrior Roy Moore for the US Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions.
Whereas polls in the last two weeks had shown Moore with a 6 to 8 point edge, they were landline-only surveys that tend to over-sample rural voters. Carried out jointly by Democratic and Republican firms, this poll contacted registered voters on both landline and cellphone.
Respondents split evenly, with 42 percent saying they would vote for Jones and 42 percent saying they would vote for Moore if the election were held today. Eleven percent of respondents were undecided.
While party loyalty explains much of each candidate’s support, nearly as many respondents say they are voting against Moore’s extremism as say they are simply voting for the Democrat in the race.
Nearly 42 percent of those planning to vote for Moore expressed reservations about him compared to 28 percent who said the same of Jones.
One number is sure to raise fears in the Moore campaign: their efforts to frame Jones as “too liberal” don’t seem to be working. Only 29 percent of respondents agreed with that statement while 42 percent rejected it.
Perhaps most encouraging for Jones, 39 percent agree that Moore’s views on hot-button culture war issues are “out of step with where Alabama is today” as opposed to 37 percent who think they are would represent the state well in Washington.
All of this despite the fact that Republicans outnumbered Democrats 47 percent to 37 percent in the survey, numbers which reflect divisions left over from a contentious GOP primary race.
Eleven percent of Trump voters say they are defecting to Jones. Trump made a big, showy endorsement of incumbent Luther Strange in the primary only to watch him go down to defeat against Moore.
Whereas Strange was dogged by ethical issues that made it hard for his attacks on Moore to land, Jones has a squeaky-clean reputation, and recent news coverage has pulled the lid off Moore’s self-dealing through his nonprofit organization.
While Moore has predictably made public piety the centerpiece of his campaign, Jones has begun releasing ads and web videos aimed at populist, kitchen table, bread-and-butter issues that actually affect Alabamians every day.
For example, watch this visit to a small Colbert County town that’s been hit hard by the loss of a major employer:
— Doug Jones (@GDouglasJones) October 18, 2017
In fact, it has been a long time since the Democratic rank-and-file was this excited about a candidate.
When Jones attended a Democratic Club dinner in Florence on Monday night, he was received warmly by more than 300 people — easily the largest Democratic gathering that city has seen in a decade or more.
Authenticity matters, too. While Jones speaks like an Alabamian, he is not a blue dog or “conservative Democrat” by any means.
“We are on the right side of history,” he declared during a recent rally visit from Joe Biden.”We are on the right side of justice. We are on the right side of respect and fairness, and I can tell you Roy Moore is not on the right side of any of those issues.”
Alabama will hold the special election on December 12.
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