Public Policy Polling has released the rest of the results from their Alabama polling this week.
- Only Bradley Byrne, Ron Sparks, and Roy Moore had favorability ratings that were a match or near match to their unfavorability ratings.
- Even Governor Bob Riley’s approval rating was easily lower than his disapproval rating (36 to 50). To what else other than his handling of the gambling issue would you attribute such a drop? SurveyUSA had his approval/disapproval rating at 56/39 in December.
- The highest unfavorability ratings belong to Artur Davis (35%) and Roy Moore (34%). Tom Jensen points out that these are the only two candidates that a majority of voters have formed an opinion about.
- Democrats Artur Davis and Ron Sparks polled about the same in head to head matchups (30′s) against each Republican.
- Republican candidates Robert Bentley and Bill Johnson were not included in the poll – presumably to cut down on respondent fatigue. If you add questions on their favorability ratings and head-to-head matchups with Davis and Sparks, then that’s six more questions you are asking respondents to hang in there for.
I asked an Alabama political insider with campaign experience to look at the numbers for us, and this is what I got.
The Alabama electorate appears to be angry. Governor Riley has long been one of the most popular governors in the country, but his numbers are upside down and half of voters disapprove of the job he’s doing. And none of the candidates for governor have a net-favorable rating. This is probably a combination of economic anxiety, displeasure with the President and Congress, and frustration at the state government which is mired in bingo battles while unemployment reaches 13%.
Clearly Byrne looks the strongest of any of the Republican candidates. But all of the Republicans lead both Davis and Sparks, showing Republicans have a fundamental advantage at this point. As any serious observer of Alabama politics knows, the most critical number in a poll like this is where the Democratic candidates are with white voters. One assumes any Democrat will run up the score with African Americans, but a Democrat needs to take approximately 38% of the white vote to win statewide.
Davis’ share of the white vote ranges from 21% against Byrne to 28% against Moore. And Sparks runs at almost identical clip (21% of the white vote against Byrne / 29% of the vote against Moore). Either Democratic candidate has a lot of ground to make up, but peeling off an extra 10-15 points of the white vote is not insurmountable.
The odds certainly favor a Republican to be the state’s next governor, but Democrats can hope that after healthcare saturation wanes, the GOP primary goes negative, and the governor’s race becomes more about the two candidates than a reaction to the national environment – that either Davis or Sparks can start growing their white support and make this race start to look more competitive.
What do you see in the numbers?