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Municipal elections

Poll shows Woodfin leading in Birmingham mayoral contest

Second place between Bell and Scales is likely to be loud and ugly as there is a long history of animosity.

Incumbent Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin held a campaign kick-off event on Saturday, Jan. 30. (VIA WOODFIN CAMPAIGN)

A new survey of the upcoming Birmingham mayoral race obtained by APR shows incumbent Mayor Randall Woodfin holding a wide lead over all other contenders.

The poll found that more than two-thirds of Birmingham voters say they are likely to vote to reelect Woodfin, with 52 percent of voters saying they will definitely vote to reelect the current mayor.

Also included in the poll were former Mayor William Bell, County Commissioner LaSahunda Scales and Chris Woods.

Bell and Scales are in a statistical dead heat, with the former mayor pulling 17.3 percent and the commissioner scoring 16.5 percent. Woods’ numbers are a negligible 4.8 of the total.  “Compared to elections in other major cities across the South, Mayor Woodfin is in a very strong position headed into the fall,” said Brad Chism, whose company Chism Strategies conducted the survey. “Given his significant financial advantage over those considering running, Woodfin is the favorite, and it is conceivable that he could expand his current support north of 60 percent.”

While the poll finds Woodfin is the clear favorite to lead the ticket, the race for second place should be much more interesting, according to Chism. “While our survey shows the race between Bell and Scales for second is in a dead heat, Scales has the best chance to gain ground. Because Bell has been in Birmingham politics for decades, he is well known with voters,” Chism said. “Given that his support is less than 20 percent despite his high name ID, his campaign will have a difficult time gaining ground on a popular incumbent.”

Chism noted that Scales, who is not as well known as Bell, has an opportunity to improve her standing if she raises money to fund a meaningful media strategy.

The contest for second place between Bell and Scales is likely to be loud and ugly as there is a long history of animosity between the two candidates.

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Woodfin’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis in Birmingham garnered him a 77 percent favorability rating, with only 23 percent giving him a negative mark.

In addition to Woodfin’s leadership during the pandemic, Chism also notes that “support for Woodfin has also been likely buoyed by Birmingham having the largest job growth and private investment over any three years in recent Birmingham history.”

The survey concludes that if current trends continue, expect Woodfin to win re-election, Scales will finish a distant second, and Bell will finish in third place. Chris Woods will finish in single digits and a distant fourth.

Chism Strategies surveyed 662 likely Birmingham voters. The survey instrument combined IVR technology for mobile phones and SMS-to-web responses for cell phones. The margin of error is +/- 3.93 percent. This was an independent survey for a local organization and not for any mayoral campaign.

The election will be held on Aug. 24, 2021.

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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