Republican Roy Moore, the anti-Republican establishment candidate, is tied at 42 percent apiece with Democrat Doug Jones in the U.S. Senate race in deep-red Alabama.
A Fox News Poll also finds that among just the 53 percent of Alabama registered voters who are extremely or very interested in the race, Jones has a one-point edge over Moore (46-45 percent).
The special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is December 12.
The competitiveness of the race is striking. Donald Trump won Alabama by 28 points in 2016, yet the Steve Bannon-backed Moore defeated the president’s favored candidate, incumbent Luther Strange, in the GOP primary.
“This race exemplifies the difficulty the Republican Party has now,” says Republican pollster Daron Shaw, who conducts the Fox News Poll with Democrat Chris Anderson.
“There is an element of the party that has had it with the establishment, had it with politics as usual, had it with political correctness. The fissure within the party means divisive primaries, controversial candidates, and hard choices for GOP voters once the general election rolls around.”
Jones is helped by greater party loyalty, and hesitancy among Moore’s own backers.
The poll, released Tuesday, shows 42 percent of Moore’s supporters have some reservations about their candidate. For Jones, that number is 28 percent.
Plus, 21 percent of those in the Jones camp say they’re voting against Moore as opposed to for Jones. That’s three times the number of Moore supporters who say their vote is based on dislike of Jones (7 percent).
Nearly half of those backing Jones (47 percent) and Moore (48 percent) say they “strongly” support their candidate.
The main reasons Moore supporters give for backing him include party loyalty (41 percent) and his Christian beliefs (20 percent). Among Jones supporters, it is party loyalty (35 percent) and their belief Moore is extreme (32 percent).
In a Republican stronghold like Alabama, it helps Jones that Democrats are more likely to back him (85 percent) than Republicans are to support Moore (77 percent). Independents go for Jones by 33-26 percent (27 percent undecided).
Moore tops Jones among white evangelical Christians (+51), white men without a college degree (+48), and gun owners (+16).
Jones is preferred among blacks (+66), voters under age 45 (+14), and women (+3).
About 1 in 10 Trump voters defects to the Democratic candidate (11 percent). That’s nearly three times the number of Clinton voters who are supporting Moore (4 percent).
Two months out, roughly 1 in 10 Alabamans is undecided about their vote in the Senate race (11 percent).
Thirty-three percent are unfamiliar with the Democratic candidate, while 12 percent say the same about Moore.
Still, more view Jones positively than negatively by 25 points (46-21 percent). Moore has a net positive of 10 points (49 percent favorable vs. 39 percent unfavorable).
About as many Alabama voters view Trump positively as negatively (48-47 percent). Four in 10 have a “strongly” unfavorable opinion of the president.
Are Moore’s attempts to define Jones as a liberal working? The poll finds 29 percent say Jones is too liberal for Alabama.
On the other hand, 39 percent of voters feel Moore is out of step with Alabama today. Even 24 percent of Republicans feel that way.
Moore is known for making controversial comments and has had to step down as chief justice of the state’s supreme court -- twice. So maybe it is unsurprising that, by a 51-38 percent margin, Moore’s supporters would rather he shake up Washington and the GOP than be a reliable vote for the Republican majority.
Only 3 in 10 Alabama voters are pleased with the way the federal government is working these days. Most voters are either angry (22 percent) or dissatisfied (45 percent).
With the GOP controlling the White House and Congress, the Democrat Jones leads by 18 points (52-34 percent) among voters expressing frustration with Uncle Sam. Those satisfied with the government break for Moore by 41 points (62-21 percent).
By 26-21 percent, more Alabama voters have a positive rather than a negative reaction to the Confederate flag. A majority, 51 percent, don’t have a reaction one way or the other.
The Fox News Poll is conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R). The poll was conducted October 14-16, 2017, by telephone (landline and cellphone) with live interviewers among a sample of 801 voters selected from a statewide voter file in Alabama. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for the total sample.