By Jim Ellis
Dec. 12, 2017 — The latest polls for today’s special Alabama Senate election were released over the weekend, and three of what are likely the final four surveys arrived at virtually the same conclusion.
The Survey Monkey (Nov. 30-Dec. 7; 1,559 registered Alabama voters), Change Research (Dec. 5-7; 2,443 registered Alabama voters), Trafalgar Group (Nov. 6-7; 1,419 likely Alabama voters), and Gravis Marketing (Dec. 5-8; 1,254 likely Alabama voters) still see a close contest as the campaign surges to culmination.
CR, Trafalgar and Gravis all post embattled former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) to single-digit leads over ex-US Attorney Doug Jones (D). The Change Research ballot test result favors Moore, 51-44 percent; Trafalgar: 51-46 percent; and Gravis: 49-45 percent. On the other hand, Survey Monkey finds Jones holding a 49-47 percent edge.
The Survey Monkey study found Jones’ slight advantage through weighting the responses both from demographic data and 2016 voter performance. Though they forecast a different leader than the other three, their methodology looks to be sound and all four automated polls featured strong sampling universes. Therefore, it is difficult to discount the SM result simply because the end result is slightly different.
Change Research has conducted three other surveys of this race and detected the early Moore lead, showing him dropping behind after the sexual impropriety allegations became public and then regaining the advantage post-Thanksgiving. In this final poll, CR probed into whether or not the self-identified Moore voters believe the charges brought against the former state Supreme Court chief justice. By an astonishing 79:2 percent ratio, this segment cluster considers the allegations to be false. And, going further, they also feel that being a Democrat is the more negative factor. Gravis Marketing also tested this question of the entire sampling universe and finds that 43 percent believe the Moore accusers, while 36 percent say the judge is more truthful.
CR also sees the late deciding voters breaking in a wave toward Moore with a 61-22 percent margin. But Gravis has a different take. According to the latter’s numbers, those who have yet to definitively make up their minds would break toward Jones, 27-24 percent, if forced to make a decision. Considering that their 53R-30D percentage segmentation looks slightly Republican skewed, the weighted Gravis numbers likely fall into the same realm as the Survey Monkey final result.
But it’s the Trafalgar Group that has been the most accurate of pollsters since just before the 2016 election. As we have reported several times, Trafalgar is the only pollster to correctly project Wisconsin and Pennsylvania in the presidential contest and went onto post the correct margin in the GA-6 special election when most firms were forecasting a Democratic victory. They also called the special Republican run-off election in South Carolina’s 5th District – Ralph Norman defeating Tommy Pope by less than one percentage point – exactly correct back in May. Therefore, Trafalgar’s projecting a 51-46 percent Moore edge may carry the most weight.
In the previous two related Alabama balloting events for this race (the special primaries and Republican run-off), however, none of the final four pollsters highlighted here, including the Trafalgar Group, projected the most accurate actual margin.
The preponderance of closing polling suggests that Roy Moore will win a tight election tonight, but the possibility of a Doug Jones upset remains a realistic one. Because the Alabama Democrats are so badly outnumbered, however, Jones will need a maximum turnout of his supporters in addition to a below average Republican participation rate in order to claim this Senate seat.