This makes three post-Thanksgiving polls of the state and three nearly identical leads for Moore. First came yesterday’s Change Research survey putting him ahead of Doug Jones 49/44, an eight-point surge since the nadir of the teen-girls scandal. Then came Emerson, which has him up 53/47 (although its last poll, conducted around the time WaPo’s first story about Moore and the girls broke, had him up eight). Now here’s JMC Analytics, whose last poll had Jones racing ahead to a four-point lead, putting Moore back on top by five. Their numbers if you include leaners are identical to those of Change Research: 49/44. Not only are the margins remarkably consistent across the three polls but Moore is either at or on the cusp of an outright majority in each, leaving Jones’s odds weak.
PredictIt has Moore as a 75/25 favorite to win as I write this, a surprisingly pessimistic read under the circumstances. He’s weathered the scandal storm and gotten a boost from the president. Steve Bannon will be in the state soon to campaign for him. Realistically his odds can’t be worse than 90 percent barring another major revelation.
When undecideds are forced to choose, Moore inches up to the 49/44 lead I mentioned. The trendline over time is what you’d expect: Moore starts off leading comfortably, although not as comfortably as you might anticipate in a very red state, then crumples after sustaining a body blow from WaPo. After a few weeks he shakes it off and regains his advantage, albeit a smaller one than he had before. He clearly has been damaged by the reporting, though. In JMC’s first poll he was +15 when voters were asked if he’s qualified to be a senator. In their second poll, taken after the WaPo story broke, he was +4. Today he’s just +3 at 49/46. But then, as we learned last fall, doubts about a Republican candidate’s fitness for office aren’t necessarily a bar to him winning. Especially when evangelicals are willing to overlook anything in the name of partisanship:
While [Moore] still trails by a similar 44-50% among women (leaners included),he has rebounded among men and leads 54-37%. Similarly, among self-identified evangelicals, the 57-34% support he had in the last poll is now 64-29%. The numbers barely changed among non-evangelicals, where his 22-73% poll deficit is now 23-72%.
Losing 29 percent of the evangelical vote is poor by normal Republican standards and very poor given Moore’s long career as a Christian culture warrior but he’s holding onto enough of them to give him a likely win next month. Maybe that’s being helped along by Doug Jones’s hideous absolutism in support of abortion or maybe they’re just giving him the same tribal pass they gave Trump in 2016. Better a Republican who might be a sex abuser than a Democrat, or so the theory goes. In any case, evangelicals aren’t Jones’s biggest problem. By all accounts he needs massive black turnout in order to offset Moore’s red-state advantage and have any chance of winning but it doesn’t look like he’s going to get it. That’s surprising given the golden opportunity Democrats have at an unlikely pick-up in the Senate, Jones’s record on civil rights, and Moore’s scandal baggage, but oh well.
Two points in closing. One: Politico notes today that while Trump doesn’t plan to campaign for Moore, the White House is quietly planning to help him with various other GOTV efforts. I wonder what happens, though, if the next few polls show Moore leading Jones even more comfortably. Will Trump show up? It’d be foolish for POTUS to hop aboard the bandwagon of a likely victor who’s been accused of molesting an underaged girl but the lure of reflected glory if Moore ends up winning the race might be too appealing to Trump. Two: There’s a big, biiiiiiiiig caveat to this poll due to the sample. Check this out.
On what planet are senior citizens ever 50+ percent of an electorate? In last fall’s presidential election they were just 16 percent of the vote nationally. In Florida, famous for its large elderly population, they were 21 percent. Older voters skew Republican so if JMC is grossly overestimating that share of the vote on Election Day, it may be they’re also grossly overestimating the size of Moore’s lead. Jones has only a small chance to win but not zero chance.