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Municipal elections

Woodfin expands lead, Scales poised to be second choice

Scales has increased her numbers over the past month to 19 percent of voters.

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

With about 60 days before Birmingham voters go to the polls to vote in races including mayor, City Council and School Board, a new independent poll shows that current Mayor Randall Woodfin maintains a significant lead and County Commissioner Lashunda Scales is emerging as the likely second-place finisher, with former Mayor William Bell a distant third.

The new poll tracks polling conducted in May by the national polling firm Chism Strategies.  The new poll shows Woodfin has stretched his lead and now has support from 63 percent of voters. Scales has increased her numbers over the past month to 19 percent of voters. Bell’s support has declined since May, from 17 percent, and now he has the support of only 10 percent of likely Birmingham voters. Chris Woods continues to trail all other candidates with 5 percent.

According to the new survey, Woodfin’s momentum is fueled by high favorables as well as an overwhelmingly optimistic outlook about the future of Birmingham held by voters. Voters, by a 10 to one margin, see Birmingham’s future optimistically compared to those who are pessimistic. About 72 percent of voters now see Woodfin in a favorable light and approve of the job he is doing.

According to one national pollster who has done work in Birmingham but did not conduct the new survey, the numbers are not surprising, given Woodfin’s handling of the COVID crisis as well as record new job creation and private investments in the city over the past three years.

“We poll across the country and we have not seen a mayor as popular as Randall Woodfin. People in Birmingham are rightly proud of the positive things happening in the city and the fact is they just like Randall Woodfin and want him to continue to be mayor. At least that is what our polling in the past has shown,” the pollster said.

Scales emerging as the clear second-place finisher is also not surprising, given Bell’s high negatives showing up in the new poll. Bell actually now has more voters with a negative opinion of him than positive.

“William Bell has been a fixture in Birmingham politics for 40 years. Any shine that he had has worn off. Our polling showed his negatives very high and simply put, there is no where for him to go in terms of increasing his numbers. By the same token, Scales as county commissioner is in a better position to grow her numbers. At this point, Bell will certainly finish a distant third if he eventually chooses to enter the race. Sometimes it’s hard for former politicians to know when to leave the stage,” the pollster said.

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The new independent survey was conducted two weeks ago with 401 likely Birmingham voters. The survey has a margin of error of 4 percent.

The election for mayor, City Council and School Board in Birmingham will be Aug. 24.

The Alabama Political Reporter is a daily political news site devoted to Alabama politics. We provide accurate, reliable coverage of policy, elections and government.

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