Alabama voters are headed to the polls today in a closely-watched Republican runoff, where polls show incumbent U.S. Senator Luther Strange is trailing his well-known rival, Roy Moore.
RealClearPolitics shows Moore leading Strange in six separate polls, enjoying an RCP average of 10 points going into Election Day.
Moore, 70, made national news for his legal battle over refusing to remove the Ten Commandments, earning him praise from conservative Christians – and plenty of hate from the Left – for his stance that defied a federal court and cost him his public office. He was re-elected to the state court in 2013 but was suspended last year for allowing probate judges to continue enforcing Alabama’s law banning same-sex marriage despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial Obergefell decision.
Strange, 64, was serving as Alabama’s attorney general when President Donald Trump appointed him to fill the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions when he became Trump’s attorney general.
The run-off winner will face Doug Jones, a former U.S. attorney, in a Dec. 12 General Election.
Trump himself visited Alabama last week to campaign for Strange, though The Washington Post and other media sources noticed that Trump told the crowd that he “might have made a mistake” by endorsing the poll-trailing incumbent. He went on state he would campaign for Moore if he wins.
“Trump has been dealt a bad hand here and I don’t think politically he’s handled that hand properly,” says political scientist Dr. Charles W. Dunn, who frequently comments on politics to OneNewsNow.
Trump hasn’t gone “all out” for Strange but has made the “appropriate representation” required, Dunn adds.
The Strange-Moore race is viewed by many as a political fight between the Washington “establishment” versus “drain-the-swamp” conservatives, and Moore himself has remarked that Sen. Mitch McConnell’s PAC has poured millions into the race to re-elect Strange.
Trump, meanwhile, remarked during his campaign visit that Strange is not close to McConnell in an effort to distance Strange from the Senate majority leader, who is loathed by many conservatives.
With the incumbent behind in the polls, there is concern among conservatives that “establishment” Republicans will attempt to repeat their 2014 effort in Mississippi that helped re-elect Sen. Thad Cochran, says AFA Action spokesman Rob Chambers.
AFA Action, the political arm of the American Family Association, has endorsed Moore.
In that race, Republicans paid Democratic leaders to encourage Democrats to vote for Cochran over primary challenger Chris McDaniel, a state senator active in the tea party movement.