By Jim EllisOct. 20, 2017 — A new Fox Poll (Oct. 14-16; 801 registered Alabama voters) just released earlier this week finds former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) and ex-US Attorney Doug Jones (D) tied at 42 percent in the special Alabama Senate race to be decided Dec. 12, but such a result begs further analysis.
Though the sample size appears sound from a numerical perspective, its composition causes one to doubt the final result. The actual segment cell sizes are not revealed in the analysis section, but it appears they are not wholly reflective of the Alabama electorate. Those with the greatest error factors: non-whites (+/-7 percent), liberals (+/-7 percent), moderates (+/-7 percent), and independents (+/-8.5 percent) all are strong cells for Jones. The error factors for other segments: whites (+/-4 percent), conservatives (+/-4.5 percent), and gun owners (+/-4.5 percent) are all much lower than the other tested subgroups and each of those favor Judge Moore.
While the overall error rating within the entire sample of registered voters is only listed at +/-3.5 percent, all 18 of the subgroups have corresponding rates that are much higher. This is not particularly unusual since the subgroups, by definition, are smaller than the overall sample, but the considerably larger error factor among Jones’ best groups provides us clues that the poll is skewed in the Democratic nominee’s favor.
Earlier, the Cygnal polling firm released its statewide poll (Oct. 2-5; 497 likely Alabama special election voters) finding Moore leading 49-41 percent, a survey we analyzed last week, and the ex-Judge does particularly well among those identified as most likely to vote. By contrast, the Fox sample is only of registered voters and did not screen for voting propensity. Not isolating voting likelihood is another polling factor that favors Jones’ standing.
Several other distinct differences exist between the two polls that further provide support for the premise that the Fox poll doesn’t accurately reflect the current Alabama electorate.
Look first to President Trump’s job approval index. While Cygnal finds the President’s positive rating at 58 percent, with a very favorable of 45 percent (the unfavorable numbers were not released for any of those tested), Fox sees Trump’s ratio at only 48:47 percent favorable to unfavorable, clearly his worst Alabama rating in any poll previously seen.
Judge Moore records a 53 percent favorable score from Cygnal, but only 49 percent in Fox, with a strongly favorable score of just 22 percent, the latter figure much different than Cygnal’s 35 percent strongly positive. Jones scores 43 percent favorable with Cygnal (31 percent strongly), but rises to 46 percent in Fox, yet with only a strong rating of 22 percent.
Gender voting is another big difference between the two polls. In Cygnal, the pollsters detected a significant gender gap between how men and women would be voting in this special Senate election. They found men supporting Judge Moore by a whopping 53-38 percent margin, while women broke 46-45 percent for Jones. But, Fox detects virtually no gender gap. According to this survey, men break 43-41 percent for Moore, while women split 44-41 percent in Jones’ direction.
In every instance, the subgroup splits reveal that Jones benefits from what appears to be a polling skew. Finding the break for the Democrat tends to be close to the seven to eight point range in the subgroups when directly compared with Cygnal. This suggests that the latter poll’s 49-41 percent ballot test result is likely proving more accurate because it is more consistent with actual Alabama voting history.
With much time remaining in this race, it is clear that Jones is running ahead of where a typical Democratic candidate stands in Alabama, but it is highly doubtful that Fox’s even standing with Republican Moore accurately reflects where the campaign stands today.