Democrat Doug Jones leads Roy Moore by 8 points among those likely to vote in Alabama’s special election to the U.S. Senate next month, according to Fox News.
The poll, released Thursday afternoon, is the first survey from a major pollster since The Washington Post first reported allegations that Moore had initiated sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl in 1979. Several other women have subsequently come forward with stories about Moore soliciting dates from them while they were underage or, in one case, alleged an attempted sexual assault by Moore.
Before the Fox News poll, RealClearPolitics’ average of recent polls in the state continued to give a slight edge to Moore. The Fox News poll, though, shows a dramatic shift in the race since its last survey in October, with Jones seeing a seven-point jump from the 42 percent he had among registered voters then to 49 percent this month. Among likely voters, he leads 50 percent to 42 percent.
Were Moore somehow to be replaced on the ballot by Luther Strange, the man who was appointed to fill the seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions this year and who Moore beat in the Republican primary, Jones would win by 10 points, 48 to 38. If Strange were to run a write-in campaign — something that has been speculated but not embraced by him personally — a quarter of likely voters say they’d be likely to write in his name. Moore voters were twice as likely as Jones voters to say that they might cast a write-in vote for Strange.
Since October, Moore has seen his favorability rating flip. Last month, registered voters held a more positive than negative view of him. Now, half of registered voters view him unfavorably. Jones still enjoys a net-positive approval rating.
The shifts by gender are dramatic. Among registered voters, men preferred Moore by two points in October and women preferred Jones by three. Now, men prefer Moore by nine and women prefer Jones by 23 — a 20-point increase.
Evangelical voters still prefer Moore by a wide margin, but Jones has closed the gap with that influential group by five points among registered voters. Six in 10 evangelical likely voters say they strongly support Moore.
The pollsters also asked whether Jones and Moore had a “strong moral character.” Two-thirds of evangelical likely voters said Moore did; a third of them said that Jones did. Among all likely voters, though, Jones has a clear advantage on this metric. Fifty-six percent of likely voters say Jones has a strong moral character while only 41 percent of all likely voters say the same of Moore.
Another prominent split is by race. White voters prefer Moore by a 56-to-37 margin. Nonwhite voters prefer Jones by a 72-point margin, 80-to-8.
An interesting note: Among registered voters, Barack Obama has a slightly higher favorability rating than President Trump, 52 percent to 50 percent. This is within the margin of error, but even that is remarkable in Alabama. Slightly more than half of registered voters approve of the job Trump is doing. Jones, the Democrat hoping to take Sessions’s seat, is viewed more favorably than the attorney general by 2 points.
Fox News also asked respondents what one quality they were looking for in a Senate candidate more than any other. Twenty-six percent said “shares my values.” The same percentage said “can bring needed change.” A third said “will represent Alabama with honor.”
Another 8 percent said “is my party’s candidate.” Moore voters were three times as likely to offer this response.
Scott Clement contributed to this report.