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Poll: Roy Moore top choice of likely GOP primary voters in 2020

Left: Doug Jones via OpenMinded Alabama. Right: Roy Moore, via Mickey Welsh for the Montgomery Advertiser/Pool Photo

A new poll released Tuesday has former U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore as the top choice among GOP primary voters likely to vote in upcoming 2020 Senate election.

The same poll found voters split on their approval Sen. Doug Jones’ job performance, but a majority would vote regardless to replace him.

In the poll, Jones’ previous opponent is far ahead of other unannounced and announce GOP candidates including Rep. Bradley Byrne, Rep. Mo Brooks and Rep. Gary Palmer in the teens and State Sen. Del Marsh in single digits.

About 27 percent said they would support Moore as the nominee.

Byrne — one of only two currently announced GOP contenders — polled at about 13 percent in the survey from Mason-Dixon, a non-partisan polling firm based out of Florida.

Brooks, who ran against Moore in the GOP primary for Senate in 2017, had about 18 percent support.

Voters are nearly evenly divided, according to the poll, on their view of how Jones is handling his job, with 45 percent approving of his job performance and 44 disapproving. Eleven percent were unsure.

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The numbers were different when those polled were asked whether they would vote to re-elect Jones or replace him with a generic opponent. Fifty percent said they would vote to replace the current senator, while 40 percent said they want to re-elect him.

Ten percent were undecided about whether they would vote for Jones again.

That signals that Jones’ chances will be affected by the Republican nominee chosen in the GOP primary, where Moore holds a vast advantage when it comes to name recognition.

Only 4 percent of those polled said they did not recognize Moore’s name. Brooks, Byrne, Palmer and Marsh would have a long way to go to catch up to Moore in that respect.

About 46 percent of those polled said they didn’t recognize Byrne’s name, and nearly more than 57 percent of likely voters said they did not recognize Del Marsh’s name. Brooks was closest to Moore in name recognition, but more than 20 percent of those polled didn’t recognize him.

The issue that the poll suggests for Moore is his divisive reputation even among Republicans.

“His current lead is largely a result of his name recognition advantage over others in the field,” according to the poll. “Those cushions will evaporate once the campaign begins in earnest.”

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Only 34 percent of Republicans in this poll had a favorable opinion of Moore, and 29 percent had an unfavorable view. The other candidates polled had only single-digit unfavorable name recognition among Republicans.

Among Republican women voters, Moore was by far the most popular of the GOP candidates, with 31 percent reporting they would vote for Moore. Among men, the numbers were nearly even between Moore and Brooks.

Moore remains highly popular among older adults in the poll.

Among all women polled, though, Jones remains more popular. A majority of women polled, 46 percent, said they would vote to re-elect Jones, while 42 percent said they would vote to replace him.

The election may largely depend on the split among white and black voters, as it did in 2017. Seventy percent of white voters said they would vote to replace Jones, while 84 percent of black voters said they would vote to re-elect him.

Mason-Dixon Polling interviewed 625 registered Alabama voters by both landline and cellphone from April 9 to 11. The margin of error in this early poll is plus or minus 4 percentage points. For the GOP primary questions, the margin of error was 5 percent with 400 registered Republican voters surveyed.

With more than a year to go until the general election and just under a year until the March 2, 2020, primaries, only a few candidates have formally announced their plans to run against Jones, who was the first Democratic Senator elected from Alabama in a quarter century.

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Chip Brownlee is a former political reporter, online content manager and webmaster at the Alabama Political Reporter. He is now a reporter at The Trace, a non-profit newsroom covering guns in America.

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