MONTGOMERY, Ala. – With less than three weeks to go until the primary election on March 3, a new Alabama Daily News poll shows a tight race among Republican contenders for the U.S. Senate.
According to the survey of likely Republican voters, if the election were held today, 31% would vote for former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, 29% would choose former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville and 17% would choose Congressman Bradley Byrne.
Five percent said they would choose former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, and no other candidate registered more than 1%. Sixteen percent of voters said they were undecided.
Under Alabama law, if no candidate earns more than 50% of the vote in a primary election, the contest goes to a runoff between the candidates with the top two vote totals. Such an event is possible, if not likely, given the fractured state of the race.
Asked which candidate they would prefer in a runoff between Sessions and Tuberville, 49% of voters chose Sessions while 42% chose Tuberville. Asked which candidate they would prefer in a runoff between Sessions and Byrne, 48% of voters chose Sessions while 35% chose Byrne.
Brad Coker of Mason-Dixon Polling and Strategy, who conducted the survey, said the numbers show Sessions is not running away with the nomination as many thought he would.
“Sessions is facing a much tougher fight to win the Republican nomination than most political insiders likely anticipated,” Coker said.
Each of the top three candidates matched up well in a hypothetical general election with incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones. Among the general electorate sample, the poll shows Sessions winning 54% to Jones’ 41%, Tuberville winning 50% to Jones’ 42% and Byrne winning 51% to Jones’ 42%.
Another troublesome sign for Jones is his relative unpopularity among voters, according to the survey. Among the general electorate sample, just 32% of voters viewed Jones favorably while 47% viewed him unfavorably, 16% had a neutral opinion and 5% didn’t recognize his name.
Coker’s said his analysis is that Jones faces an uphill battle to keep his Senate seat.
“Especially with Trump running strong at the top of GOP ticket, these numbers indicate that Jones faces long odds to win re-election,” Coker said.
Sessions, Tuberville and Moore have almost universal name recognition among the Republican electorate, according to the survey. Byrne remains unknown by 22% of voters surveyed, which explains his lower standing in the head-to-head match ups and gives him a greater ceiling for earning support down the stretch. Moore is seen unfavorably by a whopping 46% of Republican voters, compared to 21% who view him favorably.
This poll was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, Inc. of Jacksonville, Florida from Feb.4 – Feb. 6, 2020. A total of 625 registered Alabama voters were interviewed live by telephone statewide.
Those interviewed were randomly selected from a phone-matched Alabama voter registration list that included both land-line and cell phone numbers. Quotas were assigned to reflect voter registration by county.
The margin for error, according to standards customarily used by statisticians, is no more than ± 4 percentage points. This means that there is a 95 percent probability that the “true” figure would fall within that range if all voters were surveyed. The margin for error is higher for any subgroup, such as a gender or age grouping.
This survey also includes an additional sampling of 400 likely Republican primary voters. These voters were only asked the questions relative to the GOP primary election. The margin for error on these results is ± 5 percentage points.