By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
A new poll shows Gov. Kay Ivey is the most popular political figure in the state of Alabama among Republican primary voters with 84 percent indicating that they have a favorable impression of her. Among Republican voters, Ivey bested both President Donald Trump and Alabama native U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions by +7 points in this category.
The Tarrance Group, a widely respected and successful Washington-based Republican strategic research and polling firm conducted the survey between August 28-30, 2017, using telephone-based interviews with 601 “likely” Republican primary voters throughout the state.
Ivey’s popularity spreads across the entire state with her favorable ratings among Republican standings at better than 83 percent in the Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile and Montgomery DMA’s. She stands with a 93 percent favorable rating among very conservative voters and a favorable rating of 88 percent among strong pro-life and strong Second Amendment voters.
This latest survey shows challenging Ivey’s current standing among likely Republican voters will be a battle fought in the mud.
Before Gov. Robert Bentley resigned from his office in disgrace, the 2018 governor’s race looked to be a crowded field. Now that Ivey is running, those who were contenders are having second thoughts.
A Republican primary trial ballot test for governor shows Ivey totally dominates the field. She captures 66 percent of the vote on a primary ballot test, and she leads her next closest potential rival by +55 points. Tommy Battle is only pulling eleven percent of the vote on the trial ballot test, while Scott Dawson and Bill Hightower only receive three percent of the vote apiece, with only 16 percent of Republican primary voters undecided.
Any candidate who hopes to defeat Ivey will not only have to convince voters to elect them, they will also have to persuade them to fire Ivey. Any candidate who hopes to cut into Ivey’s lead will risk a negative campaign that could backfire.
A full 66 percent of Republican primary voters believe that Ivey is doing a good job of, “protecting conservative principles” and “strengthening the economy and creating jobs.” Approximately two-thirds of Republican primary voters, 64 percent, believe that Governor Ivey is “a conservative fighter who is cleaning up Montgomery and putting Alabama first.”
Even in an era where women seeking public office still face a gender disadvantage, Ivey enjoys the distinct advantage of being a known quantity.
Still, as silly as it is, about two-thirds of Americans, including majorities of men and women alike, think it is easier for men than women to get elected to higher political offices, according to a 2016 survey by the Pew Research Center.
As the old saying goes, “Ginger Rogers had to do everything Fred Astaire did, backwards and in high-heels.” Ivey often counters any gender bias with, “There is no step to high for a high stepper.”
Little of the ingrained prejudice reflected in the Pew poll will affect Ivey’s image as her leadership continues steady. Barring a major health crisis or a series of public blunders, Ivey will coast back in to office with ease.
On the primary ballot test, Governor Ivey receives 70 percent of the vote among strong Trump supporters, very conservative voters, strong pro-life voters and strong Second Amendment supporters.
Compared to Bentley’s historic incompetence, Ivey appears a paragon of wisdom, virtue and strength. Ivey is free to conduct a “Rose garden campaign,” only leaving the east-wing of the capitol when it suits her purposes.
Only to those who regularly dine on a diet of court intrigue does Ivey look vulnerable, but rumors that bellow from any campaign will seem like campfire gossip, which rarely reaches the voting public.
Many who breathe the rarified air that is Montgomery politics, and those who fund high-dollar campaigns, still worry that Ivey’s administration has welcomed too many of former Gov. Bob Riley’s lackeys onto her team.
For those who seek to unset Ivey, this latest survey is reason to rethink their timing. Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, who is seen as a real contender, may want to stay in the race until the last minute filling his campaign coffers and raising his statewide name recognition for a 2022 run. Political wisdom may have Ivey appoint some of her most formidable challengers to important leadership posts within her cabinet. Such action would not only neutralize an opponent but also bring new blood into the fold.
It is said in a political race that you either “run scared or run unopposed.” Ivey’s numbers show she doesn’t have to run scared, and anyone who has observed Ivey’s career knows that she will run hard.