By Jim Ellis
Aug. 25, 2017 — We have a new Alabama US Senate Republican run-off poll that was released into the public domain late yesterday afternoon.
Earlier in the week we reported upon a JMC Analytics and Polling survey that projected Alabama former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore leading appointed Sen. Luther Strange, 51-32 percent, in their run-off campaign scheduled for Sept. 26.
Late yesterday, the Opinion Savvy research company released their poll results (Aug. 22; 494 GOP likely run-off voters through landline and mobile phone live interviews) taken three days after the JMC survey was completed and found virtually the same results.
According to the OS poll, Judge Moore’s lead is an almost identical 50-32 percent over Sen. Strange. Even more disconcerting from the Strange camp’s perspective, the critical Huntsville area swings in virtually the same ratio that the JMC poll found, meaning 54-29 percent in Judge Moore’s favor.
Huntsville is the population anchor area of Rep. Mo Brooks’ 5th Congressional District. Brooks placed third in the Senate special GOP primary with 20 percent of the vote, but carried his 5th CD with 41 percent and secured majority support in Madison County (Huntsville). Therefore, both Moore and Strange want to court the Brooks voters since converting them could well be the difference between winning and losing for both men.
A further complicating factor also occurred yesterday. While Rep. Brooks drew a congressional primary opponent during his short-lived Senate campaign, businessman Clayton Hinchman who has strong ties to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s political operation – a group very active in opposing Moore – another new Republican candidate appeared on the scene. State Sen. Bill Holtzclaw (R-Madison) declared his congressional candidacy and will face both Brooks and Hinchman in the 2018 Republican primary.
The development places the Huntsville congressman in an even more intriguing predicament. While Brooks has yet to endorse a candidate for the run-off, him publicly supporting Judge Moore could well be the final dagger in dashing Sen. Strange’s political aspirations. With now two polls showing his 5th District electorate going heavily for Moore, it is arguably in his interest to do so especially now that he is facing a budding primary against two potentially strong individuals.
The Opinion Savvy poll contained more bad news for Sen. Strange, in terms of the personal favorability question. Judge Moore’s positive to negative ratio among the GOP likely run-off voters surveyed is 54:33 percent. This compares to only a 40:46 percent upside-down favorability ratio for Sen. Strange.
While a criticism of the JMC poll was an over-sampling of evangelicals (68 percent in the polling sample as compared to a US Census reporting of 49 percent statewide), the Opinion Savvy survey is even slightly more skewed. According to this report, 71 percent of those interviewed described themselves as evangelical. Like in the JMC poll, this factor could over-state Moore’s support (he attracts 57 percent of self-identified evangelicals against only 28 percent who choose Strange), but even a pronounced skew in this regard does not close the exaggerated support gap between the two contenders.
The fact that two independent pollsters are deriving virtual identical conclusions in separate polls conducted on consecutive days tells us that Sen. Strange has real political problems, and will likely need everyday of this run-off campaign to convert the necessary number of voters away from Judge Moore to win the run-off election. With the confirming Opinion Savvy poll now being studied, it appears Judge Roy Moore is safely ensconced in the political driver’s seat, at least in the early going of this critical run-off campaign.