Tomorrow is the big day, the Alabama special election that could send rootin’ tootin’ whackjob Roy Moore to the Senate. All the pundits say the election could go either way. Some indicators are looking good for Doug Jones. But Jones will need a strong showing from black voters, and Alabama has a genius for finding new ways around the 15th Amendment.
Polls are all over the place. Some show Moore ahead; some show Jones ahead. Nate Silver:
What weâ€™re seeing in Alabama goes beyond the usual warnings about minding the margin of error, however. Thereâ€™s a massive spread in resultsÂ from poll to pollÂ â€” with surveys on Monday morning showing everything from a 9-point lead for Moore to a 10-point advantage for Democrat Doug Jones â€” and they reflect two highly different approaches to polling.
Most polls of the state have been made using automated scripts (these are sometimes also called IVR or â€œrobopollsâ€). These polls have generally shown Moore ahead and closing strongly toward the end of the campaign, such as theÂ Emerson College pollÂ on Monday that showed Moore leading by 9 points. Recent automated polls fromÂ Trafalgar Group,Â JMC Analytics and Polling,Â Gravis MarketingÂ andÂ Strategy ResearchÂ have also shown Moore with the lead.
But when traditional, live-caller polls have weighed in â€” although these polls have been few and far between â€” theyâ€™ve shown a much different result. AÂ Monmouth University surveyÂ released on Monday showed a tied race. Fox Newsâ€™sÂ final poll of the race, also released on Monday, showedÂ JonesÂ ahead by 10 percentage points. AnÂ earlier Fox News surveyÂ also had Jones comfortably ahead, while aÂ Washington Post pollÂ from late November had Jones up 3 points at a time when most other polls showed the race swinging back to Moore. AndÂ a pollÂ conducted for the National Republican Senatorial Committee in mid-November â€” possibly released to the public in an effort to get Moore to withdraw from the race â€” also showed Jones well ahead.1
Silver goes into a long analysis of why the two methods come up with different results, but bottom line …
Because youâ€™ve read so much detail about the polls, I donâ€™t want to leave you withoutÂ someÂ characterization of the race. I still think Moore is favored, although not by much; Jonesâ€™s chances are probablyÂ somewhere in the same ballparkÂ as Trumpâ€™s were ofÂ winning the Electoral CollegeÂ last November (about 30 percent).
White-collar folks who graduated from college are significantly more likely to defect from GOP candidate Roy Moore than blue-collar, non-college-educated people. The country club set cares far more about their stateâ€™s reputation and the effect it has on the business climate.
The Washington Post-Schar SchoolÂ pollÂ published the weekend before last, which showed the race within the margin of error, found that Moore led Democratic candidate Doug Jones by 42 points among non-college-educated whites, 69 percent to 27 percent. Among college-educated whites, however, Moore led by just 4 points, 50 percent to 46 percent.
Among white non-college women, Moore led by 36 points. Among white women who graduated from college, Jones led by 15 points.