RRH Elections AL-Sen R Primary Poll: Moore Leads Strange 31-29

Moore, Strange likely headed to runoff; Brooks likely to finish third; Race for first is tight and runoff may be very competitive

With less than two weeks until the closely-watched special Republican primary for the Alabama US Senate seat, a new RRH Elections poll shows the race for first place in the primary tight between former State Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore (R) and appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R). Moore leads Strange 31% to 29%, with both candidates likely to appear in a runoff. Rep. Mo Brooks (R) trails in third with 18%. Two other candidates, State Sen. Trip Pittman (R) and physician and evangelical leader Randy Brinson (R), poll in single digits. The survey of 426 likely Republican voters was conducted between July 31 and August 3, 2017 using both an IVR automated phone survey (369 voters) and an online survey (57 voters). It has a margin of error of 5%. All survey design and data analysis is the responsibility of RRH Elections; funding was provided by the generous contributions of our readers. For comments or questions on the poll, please email us at rrhelections@gmail.com or visit our website at http://rrhelections.com.

Toplines:

Candidate  
Moore 31%
Strange 29%
Brooks 18%
Pittman 8%
Brinson 2%
Undecided 11%
Total 100%

 

Moore/Strange Runoff  
Moore 34%
Strange 32%
Undecided 35%
Moore/Strange Runoff by 1st Round Choice Moore Strange Brooks   Pittman   Brinson   Undecided
Moore 73% 3% 32% 23% 30% 17%
Strange 3% 70% 16% 39% 24% 30%
Undecided 24% 26% 52% 38% 46% 53%

The likely Moore-Strange runoff starts as highly competitive, with both candidates taking about a third of the vote and many undecideds. Neither runoff candidate pulls a commanding share of the votes from the three eliminated contenders.

Moore/Brooks Runoff
Moore 43%
Brooks 20%
Undecided 37%
Strange/Brooks Runoff
Strange 42%
Brooks 22%
Undecided 36%

Brooks will start as a decided underdog in the runoff – to either Moore or Strange – if he overcomes his third-place position in our poll.

Trump Opinion  
Strongly Approve 62%
Somewhat Approve 23%
Somewhat Disapprove 9%
Strongly Disapprove 5%

As one would expect for Republican primary voters in deep-red Alabama, our sample strongly approves of President Trump’s job performance.

Demographics:

Age  
18 to 44 14%
45 to 64 36%
65+ 49%
Gender  
Female 49%
Male 50%
Polling Method  
Online (Google Surveys) 17%
Phone (PMI Inc.) 83%

Like many primary electorates, this race’s electorate skews older. The electorate is also roughly evenly divided between males and females.

 

Congressional District  
1 12%
2 19%
3 10%
4 16%
5 15%
6 18%
7 9%

The sample electorate is dispersed throughout the state, though the higher-income Montgomery and Birmingham areas will likely have somewhat higher turnout than the more rural parts of the state. As expected, turnout is lowest in the 7th district, the state’s only heavily Democratic district.

Crosstabs:

Age 18 to 44 45 to 64 65+
Moore 24% 36% 30%
Strange 32% 24% 33%
Brooks 26% 22% 13%
Pittman 11% 6% 9%
Brinson 3% 2% 3%
Undecided 5% 11% 13%

Interestingly, our poll does not reveal a particularly significant age gap. However, Moore does seem to perform well with middle-aged voters, while Brooks seems to do best among younger voters.

Gender Female Male
Moore 34% 30%
Strange 30% 28%
Brooks 15% 20%
Pittman 7% 8%
Brinson 1% 4%
Undecided 13% 10%

Also interestingly, there is essentially no gender gap in this race.

Trump Approval Strongly Approve Somewhat Approve Somewhat Disapprove Strongly Disapprove No Opinion
Moore 36% 33% 25% 9% 25%
Strange 33% 26% 16% 4% 32%
Brooks 10% 16% 33% 36% 32%
Pittman 7% 8% 5% 16% 9%
Brinson 3% 0% 0% 4% 2%
Undecided 10% 17% 21% 31% 0%

Despite Strange’s attempts in advertising to tie himself to Trump, he actually slightly trails Moore among voters that strongly approve of Trump’s performance. Meanwhile, ads hitting Brooks as insufficiently loyal to Trump seem to be producing the desired effect, as his numbers have been hurt among the president’s most fervent supporters and boosted among the small minority that disapprove of Trump.

Congressional District 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Moore 31% 43% 35% 29% 18% 25% 40%
Strange 27% 21% 24% 40% 20% 38% 33%
Brooks 7% 15% 22% 15% 39% 15% 13%
Pittman 20% 8% 7% 7% 6% 4% 4%
Brinson 1% 3% 2% 0% 5% 3% 2%
Undecided 13% 9% 10% 8% 12% 16% 8%

Geographically, Moore is strongest in the southern half of the state, Strange does best in the Birmingham area, and Brooks wins his northern 5th district. Pittman has a base in the Mobile area but little appeal outside of the 1st district.

Discussion & Analysis:

With eleven days until Election Day, the Republican Primary race for the US Senate seat in Alabama looks certain to head to a runoff. Ex-State Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore is leading appointed Senator Luther Strange 31%-29%, making them essentially tied. Both are well short of the 50% mark needed to win outright. Indeed, with only 11% undecided, the chance of a win for either on August 15th seems remote.

The third candidate considered a contender, Rep. Mo Brooks, is running well behind the two front-runners with 18%. Brooks has been battered by ads over his prior skepticism of President Trump, who now finds himself incredibly popular among the primary electorate. Brooks’s best chance at upsetting the likely Moore/Strange pairing may be through a fourth candidate, State Sen. Trip Pittman, who has little chance to make a runoff. Like Brooks, Pittman is an anti-establishment conservative, and his strongest area, Mobile, is also Brooks’s weakest. If Pittman were to make an exit from the race and endorse Brooks, their aggregate vote share could put Brooks back into contention.

Looking ahead to the September runoff, which is likely to be between Moore and Strange, our poll shows it will start as a tossup with many undecideds. Both Moore and Strange have vulnerabilities. Strange has been under fire for his questionable ties to disgraced ex-Gov. Robert Bentley, and Moore is well-known for holding polarizing social conservative views. As a result, neither automatically gains the votes of the three other candidates in a second round, and the runoff is likely to be hard-fought. But for now, both Moore and Strange should at least feel good about their chances of surviving the first round.

Methodology:

The survey was conducted according to the script that follows in the appendix; to make the survey length manageable and increase response rates, only the 5 highest-profile candidates as determined by RRH Elections were tested. Data was collected through two methodologies and thereafter synthesized and weighted by RRH Elections: 369 Interactive Voice Response (IVR) calls were placed to a list of randomly selected Alabama voters who had participated in two of the last three Republican Primary elections, by PMI, Inc. of Marianna, Fla., while 57 online surveys were collected using the Google Surveys platform. IVR surveys make up 83% and online polls comprise 17% of survey data due to weighting. All respondents were asked their likelihood to vote, and those that were unlikely to vote or who did not complete the topline question (Question 2) were not included in the survey. Demographic data was collected in different ways between the samples: IVR demographics were asked of the respondents, while online demographics were inferred by Google’s algorithm. Geography was determined by the voter file for IVR responses and by Google’s algorithm for online responses. Survey data was weighted by RRH Elections for age only. Random deletion was not used as a method of weighting.

About RRH Elections and This Poll:

RRH Elections is a Republican-leaning elections blog that discusses electoral politics, not policy, with particular attention to congressional and state races. We cover electoral news daily and provide insight into the electoral landscape. We have produced nine polls using the expertise of our polling director, an MD-PhD student who conducts polls as a hobby. Six of these nine polls have predicted the margin in their races to within three points. RRH Elections is run by a team of nine unpaid hobbyists, all with no connection to any candidate or group active in this race. Funding for this poll comes entirely from the donations of our readers. If you enjoyed this poll, please visit our site and donate so that we may bring you more surveys like it in the future. Our site can be found at http://rrhelections.com.

To contact us for comments or questions about this poll, email us at rrhelections@gmail.com.

Appendix: Poll Script

  1. There is a Republican primary election for the US Senate on August 15th. Are you likely to vote in it?
    Press 1 if you are likely to vote in the Republican Primary for US Senate
    Press 2 if you are not likely to vote in the Republican Primary for US Senate
  2. Of the following five Republican Senate candidates, which are you most likely to vote for:
    Press 1 if you are most likely to vote for Randy Brinson
    Press 2 if you are most likely to vote for Mo Brooks
    Press 3 if you are most likely to vote for Roy Moore
    Press 4 if you are most likely to vote for Trip Pittman
    Press 5 if you are most likely to vote for Luther Strange
    Press 6 if you are totally undecided
  3. Do you approve or disapprove of President Trump’s performance in office?
    Press 1 if you strongly approve of President Trump’s performance
    Press 2 if you somewhat approve of President Trump’s performance
    Press 3 if you somewhat disapprove of President Trump’s performance
    Press 4 if you strongly disapprove of President Trump’s performance
    Press 5 if you have no opinion of President Trump’s performance
  4. For statistical purposes, please let us know your age:
    Press 1 if you are 18 to 44
    Press 2 if you are 45 to 64
    Press 3 if you are 65 plus
  5. For statistical purposes, please let us know your gender:
    Press 1 if you are male
    Press 2 if you are female
  6. Thinking ahead to a possible Senate election runoff, in a runoff between Mo Brooks and Luther Strange, who would you be most likely to support?
    Press 1 if you would be most likely to support Mo Brooks
    Press 2 if you would be most likely to support Luther Strange
    Press 3 if you would be totally undecided
  7. In a Senate runoff between Roy Moore and Luther Strange, who would you be most likely to support?
    Press 1 if you would be most likely to support Roy Moore
    Press 2 if you would be most likely to support Luther Strange
    Press 3 if you would be totally undecided
  8. In a Senate runoff between Mo Brooks and Roy Moore, who would you be most likely to support?
    Press 1 if you would be most likely to support Mo Brooks
    Press 2 if you would be most likely to support Roy Moore
    Press 3 if you would be totally undecided

.

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34 Comments

  • ike56 August 4, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    Good G_d in Heaven! Never underestimate the ability of GOP primary voters to throw away sure things! That said, I do believe that Moore can be stopped in a runoff.


    38, USN CPO (CA-52, stuck with Scott Peters until a good candidate comes along).

  • Tekzilla August 4, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    Great stuff as always. Would not be shocked if Moore wins it all.

    Who is the most likely Democrat to at least make it competitive? Jones? Are either of the two business guys self funding?


    36/M/NY-01 (D)

    • shamlet August 4, 2017 at 1:14 pm

      Jones is the only serious candidate AFAIK.


      R, MD-7. Put not your trust in princes. Process is more important than outcome.

  • GerGOP August 4, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Oh.my.god.
    McConnell and crowd propably assume that they will have an easier time beating Moore in the runoff, hence why they tore Brooks to pieces.
    Really disappointing.

  • TennesseeMike August 4, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    This is Alabama where strong social conservative views are an overall plus. I can easily see Senator Roy Moore happening.


    TN-2 District. A Social and Fiscal Conservative Republican

    • prsteve11 August 4, 2017 at 1:28 pm

      I agree. I think the Republican who wins the primary will win the general.


      SC-03, Conservative Republican

      • Izengabe August 4, 2017 at 1:44 pm

        I think Roy Moore will have a very hard time breaking 50%.


        Follow me on Twitter: @Izengabe_

        • TheWizardOf144 August 4, 2017 at 2:02 pm

          I think the incumbent will have a very hard time breaking 50.

          BTW, IZENGABE, Senator Moore would be consistent with the Republican 2018 ethos. He is something of a celebrity.

          • zbigreddogz August 4, 2017 at 6:03 pm

            Based on what? He won a primary against an incumbent AG and won two landslides in the general for AG. Likewise, Moore has run for other offices and hit a hard ceiling in the 30’s more than once.

            I’m not saying the dynamics of this race aren’t potentially different, they are, but saying “he’ll have trouble hitting 50” is a pretty big assumption that has essentially no data to back it up. You could be right, but it’s pure speculation.

        • kewgardens August 4, 2017 at 11:47 pm

          In the run-off or the general?

  • MosheM August 4, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    Thanks! Great job!

    I always chuckle when you mention random deletion in the methodology…


    29, M, R, NY-10

    • shamlet August 4, 2017 at 1:30 pm

      That’s what I’m going for 🙂


      R, MD-7. Put not your trust in princes. Process is more important than outcome.

  • andyroo312 August 4, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    I suspect Moore can be stopped in the run-off. Still…yeesh.


    MA-7

  • prsteve11 August 4, 2017 at 2:13 pm

    Interesting and good to see that President Trump is very strong in Alabama. Was there anything in the poll that showed the favorability ratings for the candidates with the Republican electorate?

    I know there’s a lot of Republicans on this site who don’t like Roy Moore, but I still think that with Trump’s help he would win the general even if he was nominated. I like to think that South Carolina is a conservative state, but Alabama takes conservative and Republican to an even deeper level.


    SC-03, Conservative Republican

    • zbigreddogz August 4, 2017 at 3:13 pm

      He’d be like the right-wing Bernie Sanders, essentially.

      • VastBlightKingConspiracy August 4, 2017 at 3:19 pm

        So one of the most popular Senators and national politicians in America? Somehow, I don’t think Roy Moore has a plausible path to the White House…


        I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Republican.

        • zbigreddogz August 4, 2017 at 5:57 pm

          The only reason Sanders ever had a plausible path to the WH is that the D’s chose to run the most compromised candidate in history, and the R’s decided to run Trump. The fact that he literally honeymooned in the USSR never really got discussed.

          To say that’s not repeatable is putting it mildly.

          • Republican Michigander August 5, 2017 at 12:09 am

            I highly disagree with that. Sanders sold authenticity. Now, I don’t think he would be able to pull it off again with his wife’s fraud issues, but someone like Bernie could win – and it probably more electable than corporate left.


            MI-08 - Michigan is a red state again. We need a 50 state strategy and an 83 county strategy.

      • Ryan_in_SEPA August 4, 2017 at 3:21 pm

        Well Alabama is R+15 and Vermont is D+14.


        31, PA-6, fiscally conservative communitarian, Giant Meteor 2020 - Just End It Already!

  • cer August 4, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    Whomever wins the GOP runoff will win the general.

    Moore would not be a terrible candidate, unless you were some Rockefeller Republican, but this is Alabama, so who cares about them.

    However, imho, Brooks is still the best candidate in this race.


    Conservative first, Republican second!

    • zbigreddogz August 4, 2017 at 5:59 pm

      Moore has been removed from the Alabama Supreme Court more than once by Republicans, not Democrats. His views may be more popular among southern evangelicals writ-large than they are even among southern evangelical elites, let alone GOP elites, but to say his views are fringe is putting it mildly.

      • Jon August 4, 2017 at 6:53 pm

        It’s not particularity a disadvantage for Alabama. Should Moore win the runoff the only thing that would stop him from taking office would either be a conviction of something that disqualifies him from taking office (infamous felony?) or the US Senate refusing to seat him by 2/3rds vote.
        The main disadvantage if he wins would be all the D attack ads for Republican Senate candidates in the rest of the country showing the candidate morphing into Moore.


        45, M, MO-02

    • Indy1975a August 5, 2017 at 1:30 pm

      I agree that Moore would crush any D at this time. I also think Moore is the underdog in the runoff.
      That said, Gov. Fob James lost the general election in a landslide in large part because he behaved like Moore back in 1998. But the Ds are simply not strong enough to compete right now.


      Independent, R until November 2016. Proud "Globalist Cuck"!

  • Jon August 4, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    1. Interesting that so many of backers of Moore & Strange in the first round say they’d be undecided in the runoff in a Moore Strange runoff.

    2. I also found it interesting that higher turnout is expected in the suburban counties than in the rural counties; in Western TN for districts that cross the Shelby County line; typically for primaries when the seat is open the turnout percent is higher in non Shelby than in Shelby.


    45, M, MO-02

  • FiveAngels August 5, 2017 at 4:19 am

    I suspect McConnell and GOP establishment will regret going after Brooks to protect Strange. Given the fact that the Dem candidate will most likely be the Alvin Greene of 2017, there’s no reason for Republican voters not to indulge their id and vote for Moore in Moore/Strange runoff.

    • JJC August 5, 2017 at 5:47 am

      If Moore wins inspite of Strange’s overwhelming backing by the establishment, I think it will be a telling indicator as to how the 2018 primaries will go. And beyond that, the future of the party as a whole.

      The base voters of the party have been demanding new leadership for a long time. They no longer see the leadership as an effective force for advancing the party’s agenda

      The Republican leadership needs to understand this. Things aren’t going to go back to the way they used to be, Trump or no Trump. The base simply no longer views the leadership as effective caretakers of the party. They’re demanding change, and no matter how hard the leadership tries to resist it, eventually the base always gets its way.

      • Octosteel August 5, 2017 at 9:10 am

        But this isn’t anything new, is it? Same things happened in 2010 with Rubio, Paul, and Sasse beating their McConnell-backed and funded primary opponents. This is different in that those people were more fiscally right wing than the establishment while Moore is more socially right wing.

        • Indy1975a August 5, 2017 at 1:24 pm

          This is Alabama. The R voters there are very very socially conservative.

          And yes Moore would easily beat even the best D in the general. You would need to get to a 2008 situation before any D would have a chance even against Moore.


          Independent, R until November 2016. Proud "Globalist Cuck"!

          • FiveAngels August 5, 2017 at 3:38 pm

            I don’t know about Moore easily beating a serious Democrat. Moore won his Supreme Court comeback race in 2012 by just 52-48. There would be a serious electability argument against him if Democrats were likely to nominate someone remotely plausible. He would still probably win because Republicans would have to back him up with U.S. Senate on the line, while in the judicial race he was left on his own, with state party probably hoping he would lose.

            However, if this “RFK Jr.” jokester really does clean up the Democrat primary, that’s an incredible gift to Moore, as I don’t think his opponent could play the electability arugment without cracking up. The whole McConnell/Strange strategy seems to be 1) Destroy Brooks, 2) Scare the voters in the runoff into thinking Moore might lose to Doug Jones. Looks like half the strategy is working while the other half is going down the tubes.

            • JJC August 5, 2017 at 4:05 pm

              “The whole McConnell/Strange strategy seems to be 1) Destroy Brooks, 2) Scare the voters in the runoff into thinking Moore might lose to Doug Jones.”

              This was the same strategy employed by most GOP candidates in regards to Trump. It did not end well for them.

  • shamlet August 5, 2017 at 9:32 am

    The main message I got from this data for Brooks is that Pittman is playing spoiler here. If Brooks got Pittman’s votes he’d be in real contention for a runoff spot, because they’re ideologically similar and from different regions. AL has no Early Voting so if I were Brooks I’d be focusing all my energy on trying to get Pittman to drop out and endorse this week.


    R, MD-7. Put not your trust in princes. Process is more important than outcome.

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