New poll shows Moore leading in Alabama special election primary

New poll shows Moore leading in Alabama special election primary
© The Guardian
Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has the lead in both Tuesday's Senate Republican primary in Alabama and the potential primary runoff, according to a new poll released days before the primary. 
Tuesday's primary is expected to go to a runoff between the top two vote-getters, as it remains unlikely that any candidate will win the majority of the vote. That makes the race for second place all-important.
Sen. Luther Strange leads Rep. Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksRepublicans embrace Trump in effort to reclaim Senate Democrats warn Waters censure move opens floodgates Conservative House members call on Senate to oppose ATF nominee MORE in the race for the final spot in the runoff, according to polling from Cygnal, an unaffiliated Alabama-based political firm, and the data firm L2.
Moore leads the field with 30.7 percent compared to Strange's 22.6 percent. Brooks, the only other candidate with a realistic shot to make the runoff, follows with 18.1 percent. 
Strange's lead over Brooks sits just outside the margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.
The three men are jockeying in the contentious primary to win the right to serve out the remained of Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOne quick asylum fix: How Garland can help domestic violence survivors Biden fills immigration court with Trump hires Trump admin got phone records of WaPo reporters covering Russia probe: report MORE's term. Strange, previously the state's attorney general, was appointed in February by then-Gov. Robert Bentley (R) to fill the post until the December special election. But in a state as red as Alabama, the primary is expected to decide the winner. 
Washington Republicans have rallied around Strange. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Biden, Senate GOP take step toward infrastructure deal as other plans hit speed bumps Senate GOP to give Biden infrastructure counteroffer next week Masks shed at White House; McConnell: 'Free at last' MORE (R-Ky.) has fundraised and whipped support on Strange's behalf, and Trump endorsed Strange this week. 
"I expect Moore and Strange in the runoff election, but Strange hasn’t locked down the second spot yet,” Brent Buchanan, Cygnal's president, said in a statement released with the poll. 
“It will be interesting to see if President Trump’s endorsement of Senator Strange increases voter turnout, which should favor Strange according to our survey results.”
Trump's endorsement shook up the race this week as Strange and his allies have spent millions to capitalize on Brooks's past criticism of Trump, claiming Strange is the best candidate to carry Trump's mantle. Brooks responded with a scathing criticism of McConnell, accusing him of duping Trump into the endorsement. 
After months of attacking Brooks, Strange's main ally, the Senate Leadership Fund (SLF), pivoted to ads criticizing Moore for spending out of a charity he ran. That's a clear signal that Strange's camp appears confident about his place in the runoff. 
Those attacks prompted Moore to come back with an ad of his own that chides McConnell and Strange as part of the "swamp" that Trump promised to drain. 
The SLF is the de facto super PAC of Senate leadership and pushes for McConnell's priorities. 
The polling found that Moore would lead Strange in a hypothetical runoff by a margin of 45 percent to 34 percent. The group did not test a runoff including Brooks. 
The poll also found Brooks's favorability rating underwater — 39 percent of the Republican primary voters view him favorably compared with 46 percent with an unfavorable view. 
Strange's favorable rating of 46 percent is 4 points higher than his unfavorable rating, while Moore is the only candidate that the majority of voters view favorably. His favorable rating sits at 56 percent. 
Cygnal and L2 contacted 502 known Republican primary voters who have decided to vote in the upcoming special election.