Month before primary, many undecided voters
Published 1:42 am Wednesday, May 9, 2018
By TODD STACEY
We are now less than one month away from Alabama’s June 5 primary elections.
It has been a relatively quiet election year so far, and there’s little information out there besides anecdotes to tell us where the races stand. Because most campaigns and political groups usually keep their survey data internal, we haven’t had much reliable, scientific polling to decipher and debate publicly.
Good news! Now we do.
Alabama Daily News recently partnered with Birmingham-based Leverage Public Strategies to conduct a survey of likely GOP primary voters on the state’s top races. We simply asked which candidates voters would choose if the election were held today. The results offer an interesting glimpse into how these races are shaping up and where they might go from here.
Gov. Kay Ivey: 47%
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle: 11%
Birmingham minister Scott Dawson: 9%
Mobile State Senator Bill Hightower: 4%
Under Alabama election law, a candidate must receive more than 50 percent of the vote to win. If no candidate earns 50 percent plus one, a runoff election is held for the top two vote earners.
This survey shows Ivey in good shape. While she doesn’t win a majority, she only needs a small percentage of undecided voters to break her way in order to avoid a runoff. Based on this survey with just a month to go, that seems likely.
For Lieutenant Governor
Public Service Commission President Twinkle Cavanaugh: 24%
Guntersville State Rep. Will Ainsworth: 8%
Mobile State Sen. Rusty Glover: 7%
With so many voters still undecided, the race for Lt. Governor is very much in play. You’d obviously rather be the candidate that is winning than not, but Cavanaugh’s 24 percent isn’t enough for her campaign to get comfortable. Ainsworth is putting considerable personal resources into his campaign and could spend as much as $1 million on television advertising by election day.
For Attorney General
Attorney General Steve Marshall: 14%
Former Attorney General Troy King: 13%
Former U.S. Attorney Alice Martin: 10%
Former Trump campaign official Chess Bedsole: 4%
The race for Attorney General is thought to be Alabama’s most compelling contest this cycle, and our numbers bear that out. This race is wide open. Keep in mind that this is essentially a playoff. All four candidates are playing for a berth in the next round – the runoff – and the margin between 2nd and 3rd could be thin.
Remember the GOP Primary for governor in 2010? Second place Robert Bentley edged out third place Tim James 123,870 votes to 123,672 to make it into the runoff with Bradley Byrne. That race – and so much more – was decided by 198 votes. This year’s GOP primary for Attorney General could absolutely be that close.
Associate Justice Tom Parker: 15%
Chief Justice Lyn Stuart: 11%
Associate Justice Place 1
Cleburne / Calhoun Circuit Judge Debra Jones: 9%
Mobile Circuit Judge Sarah Stewart: 8%
Associate Justice Brad Mendheim: 6%
Associate Justice Place 4
Jay Mitchell: 11%
John Bahakel: 6%
It’s disappointing to see how little voters seem to know or care about the candidates running for Supreme Court. Even in a Chief Justice race featuring two sitting justices with 32 years of combined service on the state’s high court, 74 percent remain undecided. The numbers are even worse down ballot. It looks like Alabama voters have some reading up to do on judicial candidates.
You can see the full results of the ADN/Leverage poll along with more thorough analysis of what the numbers mean at www.ALDailyNews.com.
Overall, I’m not surprised to see such a high percentage of undecided voters. Most folks are just now starting to tune into the election and take a look at who is running. Much will depend on the quality and frequency of the candidates’ advertising over television, radio, mail and digital. Among so many candidates who look and sound the same, who will stand out? Amid so much campaign noise around election time, who can break through with a message that connects with voters? We’ll see in about four weeks.
Todd Stacy is the publisher of the Alabama Daily News. His 15-year career in Alabama politics spanned from the State House in Montgomery to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.