A new poll conducted by Auburn University at Montgomery’s Department of Political Science and Public Administration shows Tommy Tuberville leading Jeff Sessions in next Tuesday’s Republican U.S. Senate runoff.
According to the survey results, Tuberville enjoys support among 47 percent of Republican voters surveyed while Sessions has 31 percent of voters’ support. Five days from the election, 22 percent of Republicans say they are still undecided. With a six-point margin of error, the survey results indicate that Tuberville’s lead is statistically significant.
The survey results also indicated that one of the primary reasons Sessions trails Tuberville relates to his decision as U.S. Attorney General to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. That decision led to a bitter fallout between Sessions and President Donald Trump, who ultimately endorsed Tuberville.
Respondents answering that Sessions’ recusal was inappropriate were 33 percentage points less likely to register support for Sessions compared to those saying his recusal was appropriate. Trump’s endorsement also likely helped Tuberville. Those indicating they approved of the job the president is doing were 15 percentage points less likely to prefer Sessions to Tuberville.
Regardless of who wins the Republican runoff, results from the poll indicate that Democratic incumbent Doug Jones is likely to face a difficult battle for reelection, said David Hughes, director of AUM Poll, the university’s new polling initiative. Hughes, an assistant professor of political science at AUM and expert in Alabama politics, was tapped to oversee AUM Poll in July.
"With a margin of error of five percentage points, Sessions leads Jones in a head-to-head matchup with 49 percent of voters' support to Jones' 43 percent support," Hughes said. "Tuberville, however, leads Jones with 44 percent of voters' support to Jones' 35 percent support, with nearly 10 percent of Sessions' supporters indicating their intent to write-in another candidate."
AUM Poll, which is housed in the AUM College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences’ Department of Political Science and Public Administration, conducted an online survey of a total of 558 registered Alabama voters from July 2-9. Results were weighted according to population demographics to ensure a representative sample of Alabamians, Hughes said.
“Results from the survey are the first in a series of planned public opinion surveys that will be conducted by AUM Poll throughout the 2020 election cycle,” he said. “In the coming days, AUM Poll will release additional survey results regarding public opinion in Alabama. Some of the issues it will cover include Medicaid expansion, voting amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the creation of a state lottery, confederate monuments and other political and policy issues facing Alabama voters.”
Auburn University at Montgomery is currently the only institution of higher education in Alabama that provides political polling as a public service, Hughes said. AUM Poll was launched this summer as a collaborative student-faculty effort in undergraduate and graduate survey research courses. The courses are designed to introduce students to the best practices of survey research and data analysis, he said.
“We will continue to administer AUM Poll surveys in the fall as we study public opinion regarding the 2020 presidential election,” he said.
Prospective students can participate in this effort by applying for fall admission to the AUM Department of Political Science and Public Administration’s bachelor’s or master’s programs in political science. The university plans to hold fall classes face-to-face while adhering to public health guidelines for social interactions. To help offset the costs of university enrollment, AUM is offering fall enrollees a range of academic and transfer scholarships in addition to a free laptop computer.