A poll taken three weeks ago had him ahead by 11 and he still enjoys a six-point lead in the RCP average. *But* this isn’t the only poll lately to show the race tight. A second poll published three weeks ago from none other than Fox News had the race 42/42 with a chunk of Alabamans undecided.
What makes this new one from Decision Desk HQ and Opinion Savvy newsy is that it was conducted overnight, after the news broke about Moore and his alleged former teenaged girlfriends. The last DDHQ poll taken in late September had Moore up six points, 50/44. Now? Dead even at 46.
I won’t believe a Democrat can win in Alabama until I see it happen but between the scandal baggage, the NRSC cutting Moore loose, and the blue wave in Virginia a few days ago, at the moment anything seems possible.
With the special election just weeks away, Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones are essentially tied in the latest Opinion-Savvy poll of likely Alabama voters. In the previous survey, Moore lead Jones by 5.7%. Jones holds a sixteen point lead among women, while Moore enjoys a twenty point lead among men. Beyond the horse race between the two declared candidates, voters were also asked about the allegations that broke in the Washington Post yesterday, and if Moore should withdraw from the race over them. An overwhelming share of those surveyed- 82.2%- were aware of the allegations. A majority of voters- 54%- do not think Moore should withdraw at this time. Among Republicans, that percentage soars to 72.9%.
Being tied with nearly 20 percent of the electorate having yet to hear about a highly damaging news story is not a great place to be. At 73 percent, the share of Republicans opposed to Moore withdrawing is also lower than I’d expect. When you toss Luther Strange into the mix as a write-in candidate, a scenario that’s been floated by Lisa Murkowski (but which is unlikely to happen), Strange pulls 12.3 percent of the vote, far behind Moore but enough to tilt the race to Democrat Doug Jones, 44/41 over the Republican nominee. Strange’s hypothetical vote share is the scariest number in this survey for Moore, I think. If more than 10 percent of the electorate would be willing to write in the losing Republican from the primary, what will they do on election day if their only choices are Moore and Jones? How many vote Democrat as a protest?
It’s not just the NRSC that Moore has lost. Mike Lee, who endorsed him weeks ago, has also stepped away — sort of:
Sen. Mike Lee of Utah has asked Roy Moore’s team to stop using his image on their campaign fundraising materials, per The Hill. After four women accused Moore of sexual assault and misconduct (when they were teenagers), his campaign blasted fundraising ads featuring images of some of the Republican senators who endorsed him — Lee, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul specifically.
I hope Moore tells him no and continues to use Lee’s image, at least until Lee sacks up and decides to retract his endorsement. Lee endorsing Moore was one of his lowest moments as a senator, a constitutionalist endorsing a nationalist who supports religious tests for office, which Lee claims to abhor. Now suddenly a single story in WaPo pops and Lee’s running for cover. Let him wear his association with Moore for awhile as a lesson for the next time he considers pandering to populists by supporting someone to whom he should have obvious civic objections.
Moore’s best hope for a polling rebound is time and a dedicated effort by right-wing media to spin the allegations against him. If no further stories break about him chasing teenaged girls as a thirtysomething man, Republican voters who want to doubt the story will find the lack of other accusers to be strong evidence that the WaPo article was BS. Moore can survive one bombshell but probably not several — although I don’t know. By the time election day last year rolled around, evangelicals were so determined to vote for Trump that they were *more likely* in surveys than the average American to believe that a public official who commits an immoral act in his personal life can still behave ethically and fulfill his duties in public life. The “where’s the outrage?” faction that had objected so passionately to Bill Clinton had flipped entirely and now become the chief proponents of separating personal vice from public virtue. If they could do it for Trump, they can do it for Moore, a man far more pious in his politics than Trump’s ever been. We’re probably two weeks away from the NRSC quietly starting to fund Moore again as GOPers rally ’round the nominee.
Meanwhile, populist Republican news outlets will do damage control for Moore relentlessly. Fox News will lead the way as usual, probably by engaging in a long game of whataboutism involving the Clintons. If Democrats could elect Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy, surely Republicans are permitted to make a man who’s credibly suspected of “dating” a 14-year-old a U.S. Senator. That’s what “the party of personal responsibility” has likely come to. Alex Griswold noted the shift among anti-Clinton “Pizzagate” conspiracy theorists in right-wing new media yesterday afternoon: “People who spent countless hours looking for a secret pedophile pizza code, are now shrugging off a major politician being accused of it on the record.” Right. A few weeks of that, of flattering Fox coverage, and of talk radio shilling for him and Moore will likely be safely ahead again in Alabama. In lieu of an exit question, here’s Rush following the playbook by reminding listeners that the Clintons are scumbags.