Democrats dreaming of an improbable steal of an Alabama Senate seat in December just got a promising piece of evidence.
On Tuesday, a new poll from the firm JMC Analytics showed Democrat Doug Jones 8 points behind Republican nominee Roy Moore, a former judge who believes that the Constitution forbids Muslims from serving in Congress and that abortion should be illegal from the moment of conception, regardless of circumstance.
Alabama is among the most conservative states in the country — Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) was reelected in 2016 by 30 points — but the relatively close margin from this poll may catch Democrats’ attention. As Politico’s Gabriel Debenedetti reports, top national Democrats are currently weighing whether to heavily invest resources into the race:
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is poised to start polling the state as it weighs whether to invest in the race. Former Vice President Joe Biden is flying in for a Jones rally in Birmingham next week. Operatives aligned with the former U.S. Attorney are expecting a gush of campaign cash in the coming days.
“I just keep coming back to the number 51 percent. The last time Roy Moore was on the ballot against a Democrat, in 2012, he won 51 percent, on the same ballot as Mitt Romney, who carried the state with 60 percent," said Zac McCrary, a Montgomery-based Democratic pollster.
Vox’s Matt Yglesias has urged national Democrats to go all-in on Alabama, and noted again on Tuesday that there aren’t many other elections this year where liberals can direct their anti-Trump energies.
If you’re mad at Trump, not many places to put that energy this year.— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) October 3, 2017
VA Gov & state leg races in November.
AL Senate in December. https://t.co/qhNMEJBlQP
Meanwhile, the poll contained warning signs for Republicans nationally. At the Washington Examiner, David Drucker notes that the survey showed the GOP only ahead 4 points on the Alabama “generic ballot” — which asks whether voters simply prefer a Democrat or a Republican. That’s a remarkably small lead for Alabama.
“The closer generic margin is indicative of a more challenging partisan environment [for Republicans] next year," John Couvillon, the pollster who runs JMC Analytics, told Drucker. "Or let me put it this way: If Alabama does not have a 60 percent Republican tilt to it ... that would be disastrous in less conservative states next fall.”