As the Alabama senate race gets down to the wire, with less than a week to go, the two major candidates are working to mobilize core groups of voters.
Republican Roy Moore is working to shore up his base of rural and conservative Christian voters while Democrat Doug Jones focuses on gathering a coalition of support.
In a race that is expected to have low voter turnout, Larry Powell, a political expert and professor of communications studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, says how many will show up at the polls on Tuesday is key.
“This is a controversy that has spilled over to the nation, with most of it going on right here in Alabama,” Powell told Fox News. “It’s really surprising to have such a competitive Senate race in a state that is normally heavily Republican.”
RealClearPolitics average of recent polls has Moore edging out Jones 48 percent to 45.7 percent.
“The question before us today in this election is which way will the people of Alabama go being watched by everybody in the nation and around the world,” Moore said before a room of supporters at a rally in Fairhope, Ala.
Jones says he expects a decent turnout of voters for the Dec. 12 special election.
“I think we’re going to see a good turnout not only in the African-American population [but] I think we’re going to see a good turnout of people that want change,” Jones said after a fish fry and rally in Tuscaloosa, Ala. on Sunday. “They want to see a change in that crisis of confidence [in] leadership.”
Powell says the sexual misconduct allegations against Moore have given his Democratic challenger a real shot at winning the race. He notes the state has not sent a Democrat to the Senate in over 30 years.
Both campaigns have spent the last week crisscrossing the state and calling voters ahead of the December 12th election. Powell says each candidate needs to encourage his core group of voters to show up on Election Day to reach victory.
“Jones has to turn out his voters. He’s [got to] turn out people who are Democrats [and] he’s got to turnout people in high numbers. There’s a lot of discouragement amongst Republicans, so their turnout could be lower,” Powell said. “The one exception among Republicans [is] Roy Moore supporters. His supporters are avidly behind him and they will get to the polls.”
Moore has held several events in churches throughout the state and most recently held a rally in a rural Alabama town. Former White House aide Steve Bannon re-affirmed his support for the embattled Senate candidate by introducing Moore at the rally. Moore called on his supporters to stand against Jones, saying his opponent supports abortion, transgender rights and the Clinton agenda.
“If your beliefs do not accept abortion, same-sex marriage, sodomy [and] transgender rights in their school bathrooms and in the military, then by definition you are discriminatory and will not be protected. Nor will your rights to carry guns be secured,” Moore said, giving his interpretation of an interview with Jones featured in The Economist.
Jones says his campaign is focusing on a message of unity and is working to court a diverse group of supporters, including Republicans who may not want to vote for Moore. Jones called Moore an embarrassment to the state and said “men who hurt little girls should go to jail, not to the U.S. Senate.”
“I don’t demean my fellow citizens but treat everyone with dignity and respect,” Jones said during a speech in Birmingham. “Roy Moore has spent his entire life to use whatever position he was in to create conflict and division in order to promote his personal agenda.”
On Monday, Moore received an endorsement from President Donald Trump, which triggered the Republican National Committee to throw its support behind the former judge’s campaign after it cut fundraising efforts weeks ago. Although President Trump has no plans to campaign for Moore in Alabama, he will hold a rally in Pensacola, Fla. on Friday, which is only about an hour away.