Who Still Likes Roy Moore?

by Jibran Khan

Can Roy Moore win in Alabama, despite the well-researched and corroborated allegations of sexual misconduct that have engulfed his campaign? To listen to some Republican officials in the state, Moore is a victim even if he is guilty. Indeed, some have even gone so far as to compare Moore to Jesus Christ and to invoke the Virgin Mary’s relationship with Joseph. But does this total willingness to countenance wrongdoing on the part of a Republican hold for the wider public, even in as deeply red a state as Alabama?

A poll by Opinion Savvy Alabama/Decision Desk, taken after yesterday’s allegations, suggests not. The results show the race in a dead heat, with voters split 46.4 percent to 46 percent in favor of Roy Moore. With write-in Luther Strange as an option, Doug Jones leads with 43.6 percent, with Moore taking 41.3 percent and Strange getting 12.3 percent. The poll also shows that most Alabamans don’t think Moore should step down from the race; only 34.9 percent say that he ought to do so.

Moore has led nearly every poll so far, with a lead of eleven points last month. But even at its height, his was a poor showing for Alabama, where Trump won by 28 points.

Moore continues to do well with Alabama’s Evangelicals, who seem as a voting bloc to be prepared to accept virtually any sort of behavior of late, but he is being outperformed by Trump among every other group. Jones leads among non-Evangelicals by 30 points, where Hillary Clinton only led by 12 (oddly, it is worth noting that Jones’s lead among non-Evangelicals was actually larger in October’s polling, at 40 points). And while Trump won Alabama independents, polling has shown Jones winning them by a wide margin.

Alabama’s recent Republican governor Robert Bentley saw a huge drop in support after it came out that he had used his office to cover up a sex scandal, which, FiveThirtyEight suggests, means “there are instances when moral outrage outweighs partisan interest.” Given the polling we have, it seems likely that Moore will take a similar hit. Twice disbarred, and routinely disrespectful of the Constitution, Roy Moore was unfit for office before these allegations came out. Now he is more so, and a liability to boot. He should step down.

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