Somebody’s going to be wrong in Alabama.
We’ve already urged caution when interpreting polls of Alabama’s special election to the U.S. Senate, which will be held on Tuesday. Some of that is because of the media’s usual tendency to demand certainty from the polls when the polls can’t provide it. And some of it is because of the circumstances of this particular race: a special election in mid-December in a state where Republicans almost never lose but where the Republican candidate, Roy Moore, has been accused of sexual misconduct toward multiple underaged women.
What we’re seeing in Alabama goes beyond the usual warnings about minding the margin of error, however. 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 — and they reflect two highly different approaches to polling.