On behalf of the election data site Decision Desk HQ, Opinion Savvy is out with the first poll of the Dec. 12 special Senate election in Alabama since Tuesday’s GOP runoff, and they give Republican Roy Moore a 50-45 lead over Democrat Doug Jones. Donald Trump carried Alabama 62-34 and Democrats haven’t won a statewide election there since 2008, so this would be a remarkably close result for Team Blue.
Still, there are plenty of things to keep in mind with this poll. As we said at the top, this is the first survey we’ve seen, and other firms may find a different result. This poll was also in the field just after the primary runoff, where Moore, the infamous former chief justice of the state Supreme Court, was on the receiving end of millions of dollars worth of ads from appointed Sen. Luther Strange and his allies at the Senate Leadership Fund. Those ads didn’t come anywhere close to stopping Moore, who dispatched Strange 55-45, but they could have hurt him with the rest of the electorate.
By contrast, no one has run a single commercial against Jones. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell very much didn’t want Moore, whom he tried to beat in the primary, in the Senate, but he’ll want a Democrat in that seat even less: If the GOP feels like this seat is in any danger, Jones should expect plenty of Republican ads to be aimed at him.
However, this poll at least suggests that Jones could have an opening in this incredibly tough state. Moore, who was thrown off the court in 2003 after he refused to comply with a federal judge’s order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the grounds of the state Supreme Court, does have plenty of enemies. In 2012, Moore successfully ran for the court again, but he only beat his Democratic opponent 52-48 as Mitt Romney was easily carrying Alabama. (Moore was removed again for defying federal court orders regarding same-sex marriage.)
This survey gives Trump a positive 54-43 approval rating, so at least a fair number of Trump voters are on the fence right now. However, the poll does show Moore at 50 percent, if only just; if this survey is right, Moore just needs to hold onto the voters who already plan to support him in order to win. In a state as conservative as Alabama, that’s not a tough task for any Republican.
So far, it’s unclear if national Democrats plan to get involved. A pickup here would be huge, but it’s still very unlikely. Still, if Democrats in D.C. see more polls showing Moore only modestly ahead, they may not be able to say no to coming in and helping Jones.