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New US Senate poll shows tie; one pollster skeptical about methodology

Sam Mattison

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By Samuel Mattison
Alabama Political Reporter

A new poll in the U.S. Senate race released Tuesday said that both Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones are tied for the seat.

The poll, paid and released by Fox News, includes some controversial sampling that has been drawing the ire of some pollsters across the state.

Brent Buchanan, the president of the political consultant firm Cygnal, gave an interview with the Alabama Political Reporter late Tuesday evening about why he thought the poll was inaccurate.

Buchanan’s criticism of the poll centered upon its use of registered voters, the high volume of cell phones used to poll, and the inconsistency with President Donald Trump’s approval rating in the poll versus other polls.

“Any of these reasons makes it inaccurate and all combined makes it unbelievable,” Buchanan said. “Roy Moore is ahead of Doug Jones, and that lead will only grow when Alabamians learn more of Doug Jones’ extreme liberal views.”

A recent poll conducted by Morning Consultant puts the president’s Alabama approval rating at a 59.1 percent in September. The Fox News poll put the president’s approval rating at 49 percent, a whole 10 percentage points drop.

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Buchanan said the pollsters should have at minimum curated the sample better with a screen test to check for likely voters instead of registered voters.

When asked about who will win the race, Buchanan said it was “too early to tell.”

“A lot can change in 8 weeks,” Buchanan said. “That’s an eternity in political years.”

Buchanan’s company has participated in political consulting since 2007 and boasts 250 clients in over 32 states according to its website.

Other polls in the race have Moore leading by single digits in front of Jones. For comparison, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., defeated Democratic candidate Ron Crumpton by nearly 30 percentage points in 2012.

Moore won the nomination in September after defeating Sen. Luther Strange, R-Ala., in the Senate primary runoff. Since then, some key supporters of Strange have been hesitant to endorse or finance his campaign.

During the campaign, Moore repeatedly attacked Washington interest groups for financing his opponent’s, Strange, campaign.

Most notably, the Super PAC Senate Leadership Fund hasn’t donated to Moore’s campaign since it conceded defeat the night of the election.

They issued a statement, as it became clear Moore would win by a large margin, the night of the election stating their support for Moore.

The organization, which has connection to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., donated millions to Strange’s campaign and ran several attack ads against Moore and other GOP challengers.

The majority leader seemed to take a jab at Moore on Monday when he told reporters at a surprise press conference at the White House that he wanted candidates who had broad support and not Religious Right candidates, such as Christine O’Donnell.

Previously, McConnell had expressed concerns that Moore would be a difficult senator to manage as key legislation makes its way through Congress.

Moore is scheduled to meet with Trump next week to discuss policy issues according to comments made during the press conference. The president announced this after he was seemingly unaware of Moore’s more controversial comments, including homosexuals and Muslims.

While Trump did talk with Moore briefly on the phone in September, he told a crowd in Huntsville—when he was campaigning for Strange—that he would fully lend his support to Moore if he won the primary.

Moore told the president after his win that he would support him if the laws he tried to pass were Constitutional.

The firebrand Republican candidate follows a distinct interpretation of the Constitution, which he used as a basis to defy the Supreme Court ruling in 2015 regarding same-sex marriage when he was chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. He was later suspended from his position by the Court of the Judiciary.

In a similar case, Moore was thrown out of the position in 2003 for placing a monument to the Ten Commandments in the lobby of the state Supreme Court building in Montgomery.

Moore and Jones will face each other in December to fill the seat left vacant by Jeff Sessions appointment to attorney general by Trump.

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