Dem nearly tied with GOP candidates in Ala. Senate race: poll

Dem nearly tied with GOP candidates in Ala. Senate race: poll
© Greg Nash

Alabama Democrat Doug Jones is running just a few points behind his potential Republican opponents for a Senate seat in the deep-red state, according to a new poll.

The poll from Emerson College finds former Alabama state Supreme Court Judge Roy Moore leading Sen. Luther StrangeLuther Johnson StrangeAlabama election has GOP racing against the clock McConnell PAC demands Moore return its money Graham on Moore: 'We are about to give away a seat' key to Trump's agenda MORE (R-Ala.) by a 14-point margin ahead of the GOP's special election primary runoff on Sept. 26.

But both Republicans would hold only a slim advantage over Jones, according to the poll — Moore leads Jones by 4 percentage points, while Strange leads him by 3 points. 

The poll is a surprisingly strong result for Jones, who was expected to have no chance in the December general election for the rest of Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsFederal judge rules Trump defunding sanctuary cities 'unconstitutional on its face' FBI informant gathered years of evidence on Russian push for US nuclear fuel deals, including Uranium One, memos show Alabama election has GOP racing against the clock MORE's Senate term. Alabama voters traditionally back Republicans in statewide elections, with President Trump winning the state by nearly 30 percentage points in 2016.

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Jones's improved showing appears to come from deep divisions in the state GOP, which has been bruised by a tough primary fight between Moore and Strange. One-quarter of Moore's primary voters said they'd rather vote for the Democrat than Strange, while 31 percent of Strange's voters said they'd pick the Democrat over their primary rival.

Before either Republican has the chance can take on Jones, a former federal prosecutor, they have to make it through the runoff later this month. Strange and Moore moved onto a runoff after no candidate won the majority of the vote in the August primary. 

Trump has endorsed Strange, who was appointed to the seat after Sessions was appointed to the Cabinet. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAlabama election has GOP racing against the clock McConnell PAC demands Moore return its money Klobuchar taking over Franken's sexual assault bill MORE (R-Ky.) and his deep-pocketed allies have blanketed the state with ads on Strange's behalf, but he's consistently trailed Moore in polling on the runoff.  

The new Emerson poll gives Democrats new hope that they can take the seat, or at least force Republicans to spend money defending what was expected to be a safe seat.

Emerson polled 416 likely voters between Sept. 8 and Sept. 9, and the poll has a margin of error of 4.8 percentage points.