ALABAMA: All Across the Board

Left: Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) | Right: Ex-US Attorney Doug Jones (D)

Left: Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (R)
Right: Ex-US Attorney Doug Jones (D)

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 13, 2017
— Yesterday morning, we reported about the four weekend closing polls in the Alabama Senate election race, three of which projected former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) as the race leader in the closing days. Then on Monday, a much different story emerged. Four more surveys were released, and the results were head-scratching to say the least. If you supported Moore, favored Democratic nominee Doug Jones, or were an observer who thought the race was too close to call, poll results were published that supported your position.

Yesterday, the voters of Alabama put an end to all the speculation. Embattled Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore succumbed to the many challenges he faced and lost the election to Democrat Doug Jones by a slim 49.9-48.4 percent margin.

Which polling entity got it right? Let’s take a look: Emerson College (Dec. 7-9; 600 likely Alabama special election voters), in line with most of the data from the previous day, publicized new totals showing Judge Moore with a 53-44 percent advantage. Monmouth University (Dec. 6-9; 546 likely Alabama special election voters), however, found the two candidates tied at 46 percent, and indicated that individualized turnout models could easily produce potentially substantial victories for each man. The brand new Change Research survey (Dec. 9-11; 1,543 likely Alabama voters) projected a 51-45 percent Moore lead, almost identical to the 51-44 percent spread in their poll released over the weekend.

But, the Fox News data (Dec. 7-10; 1,408 registered Alabama voters; 1,127 likely Alabama special election voters) is the most curious of all. Finding a partisan division among likely voters of 44R-42D, which appears to be a heavy Democratic skew, the ballot test found Jones claiming a 50-40 percent victory margin.

So, in summary, we saw four polls, all taken within the same four-day time period that ran the gamut from a nine-point Moor advantage all the way to a 10-point Jones lead. Smack in the middle was another poll showing a flat tie.

Seeing such dissimilar information made it difficult to forecast which poll most accurately reflected the correct political situation, though the clear majority of surveys, particularly among the final eight released public polls, yielded a discernible Moore edge.

Despite Judge Moore absorbing continued negative publicity from the sexual impropriety accusations that have dominated the latter part of this campaign, the Democratic road to victory was still the more difficult to traverse. Though poll numbers and the respective supporting data varied widely among multiple pollsters, the fact remained that many more Alabamians affiliate with the Republican Party than Democratic, and certainly a greater number from the former have participated in the associated nominating balloting events held earlier in this special election cycle.

In the primary elections on Aug. 15, 423,282 individuals chose to cast a Republican ballot. Six weeks later on Sept. 26, even more people — 480,270 — voted in the GOP run-off election between Judge Moore and appointed Sen. Luther Strange. In comparison, only 165,006 people voted in the one Democratic primary. This spread of actual votes, and not polling numbers, illustrated the large gap in party division, and just how many disaffected Republicans had to either vote for Jones or not come back to vote in yesterday’s general election. More than 1.3 million votes were cast in yesterday’s Alabama special Senate election.

Since we have seen so many polls in this special election with such disparate results, there had to be supporting evidence for no matter how this election ended. And yesterday, it ended in Jones’s favor.

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