By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—A mayoral race in Montgomery would be “ wide open” if Mayor Todd Strange were not to seek reelection.
This, according to a confidential polling results obtained by the Alabama Political Reporter.
The poll is the result of a three day survey of 1,110 voters in the city of Montgomery, conducted January 23-24, 2014, the results are within 2.9 percent a margin of error.
The poll, tested four candidates— State Senator Quinton Ross, Probate Judge Steven Reed, State Rep. Joe Hubbard and a wild card, former Congressman Artur Davis.
All are Democrats except Davis who switched to the Republican Party in 2012.
According to the survey, the four potential candidates ran very close together; this due to the large number of uncommitted voters.
Not surprisingly, Ross, with his high name recognition narrowly lead the field overall, drawing almost 25 percent of the African-American voters.
However, Ross languished at one percent among whites, where Hubbard held the lead with Davis a close second.
The poll found that “Despite the city’s performance as a heavily Democratic base in presidential races, the electorate is surprisingly closely divided between Democrats, Republicans and Independents, and a sizable number of black voters are open to backing a candidate not of their party.”
Despite, Montgomery’s image as a Democrat stronghold, the survey showed that there are, “more Republican leaning blacks than Democratic leaning whites in the city electorate.”
Only 14 percent of whites describe themselves as Democrats or independents who lean Democratic, as oppose to 19 percent of blacks who describe themselves as Republicans or independents who lean Republicans.
The poll numbers suggest that a white Democrat like Hubbard, even though he has high name ID, and is a life long native of the city, would face a considerable challenge.
The numbers indicate that a more conservative African-American candidate, with strong appeal among the white community would have an easier time establishing a base in a Montgomery mayoral election.
Montgomery County Probate Judge Steven Reed runs last among the four tested candidates.
According to polling results, connections to longtime political power broker Joe Reed, hurt (Steven Reed, is Joe Reed’s son).
The strongest “identified negative,” in the survey was support from Joe Reed, with blacks the net negative of 34 to 29, and among whites it is a staggering 76 to 7.
None of the four have openly expressed an interest in the job should Strange choose not to run, but the survey opens up an interesting horse race, especially if an outlier like Davis is added to the mix.