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Is Roy Moore Losing?

Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup. (Coming to you early this week thanks to the Thanksgiving holiday.) Today’s theme song: “Walk With You” from the television show “Touched by an Angel” in honor of the show’s star (and singer of the theme song), Della Reese, who passed away earlier this week at the age of 86.

Poll of the week

A Change Research survey released Thursday found Democrat Doug Jones leading Republican Roy Moore 46 percent to 43 percent ahead of Alabama’s special Senate election on Dec. 12. The survey is just one of many to show that the allegations of child molestation and sexual misconduct against Moore have really eroded his support. Not only that, but the first few polls released after the allegations became public on Nov. 9 may have understated his problems. He seems to have fallen even further since then.

The average of surveys fielded after the first accusations shows the race exactly tied:

Alabama Senate polls show a tight race since the allegations

Surveys taken after accusations of sexual misconduct against Roy Moore were first reported by The Washington Post on Nov. 9

Opinion Savvy 0 46% 46% 0
Gravis Marketing 1 46 48 -2
Change Research 2 40 44 -4
Emerson College 2 40 49 -9
JMC Analytics 2 48 44 +4
Strategy Research 4 43 49 -6
Fox News 6 50 42 +8
Gravis Marketing 6 47 42 +5
Change Research 7 46 43 +3
Strategy Research 12 45 47 -2
Average 45 45 0

That’s quite a turnaround from earlier polls, when Moore held a clear advantage. Indeed, we can see how the accusations were a game changer by looking at surveys from five pollsters who took polls both before Nov. 9 and since.1 Moore’s position fell, on average, by 9 percentage points from before the allegations to after.2

Jones has gained ground since allegations against Moore

Surveys from pollsters who polled before and after The Washington Post reported accusations of sexual misconduct against Roy Moore on Nov. 9

Emerson College Moore +22 Moore +9 +13
Fox News Tie 0 Jones +8 +8
JMC Analytics Moore +8 Jones +4 +12
Opinion Savvy Moore +5 Tie 0 +5
Strategy Research* Moore +11 Moore +6 +5
Average +9

*Includes only the first Strategy Research poll taken after the allegations were reported.

But the deterioration in Moore’s standing may be even greater than that.

Let’s take a look at the three pollsters — Change Research, Gravis Marketing and Strategy Research — that conducted at least two surveys after the allegations. Change Research’s first post-allegations poll, conducted Nov. 9-11, had Moore at +4 points. As we noted above, its Nov. 15-16 survey had Jones at +3. Gravis Marketing showed an identical 7-point shift toward Jones, going from Moore +2 on Nov. 10 to Jones +5 in its Nov. 14-15 poll. Strategy Research, meanwhile, went from Moore +6 in its poll ending on Nov. 13 to Moore +2 in its poll ending on Nov. 21.

In other words, it doesn’t seem like the allegations against Moore took a one-time bite out of his support. Instead, he seems to have experienced a steady decline in the polls.

That makes sense: After the initial stories about Moore, accusations from more women have come out concerning sexual misconduct. Those, in theory, could have caused additional voters — still on the fence after the first set of allegations — to move against Moore. It’s also probable that it took some voters a few days to hear about and process the first wave of allegations. There is precedent for this type of extended reaction. As I have previously pointed out, it took time for polls to fully manifest how much former Rep. Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” statement hurt his standing in the 2012 Missouri Senate race.

If these later surveys in Alabama are a truer reflection of where the race stands, Jones may actually have an advantage. An average of Alabama polls conducted over the past week, for instance, gives Jones a 47 percent to 43.5 percent lead.

Either way, there’s still three weeks to go until election day. It’s possible that the trajectory of the race could change by then. There are also questions about what the partisan composition of the electorate will look like in a December off-year election — just how anti-Trump will it be? These factors make this race too uncertain to call. But it’s clear looking at the data that Moore’s chance of winning was severely damaged by the allegations of child molestation.

Other polling nuggets

  • The vast majority of Americans, 70 percent, told the Kaiser Family Foundation that Puerto Ricans affected by Hurricane Maria are not getting the help they need. That’s up from 62 percent last month and significantly higher than the 31 percent of Americans who feel Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey are not getting sufficient help.
  • The share of Americans who say prescription drug abuse is an extremely or very serious problem is up to 76 percent in the latest Pew Research Center poll. Back in 2013, it was 63 percent. Most of that increase comes from people with college degrees: They saw a 26-point rise, from 54 percent to 80 percent.
  • For the first time since Gallup began asking the question in 1953, a majority of Americans, 55 percent, said they had no preference between a male or female boss. Men were far more likely than women to say they had no preference (68 percent vs. 44 percent).
  • New Hampshirites are in favor of a new law “that requires those who register to vote within 30 days of an election or on Election Day to show proof that they live in the community” by a 54 percent to 20 percent margin, according to the latest University of New Hampshire survey. This includes 77 percent of President Trump’s voters but just 33 percent of Hillary Clinton voters.
  • Arizona Senate candidate Kelli Ward, who has the backing of Steve Bannon, holds a 42 percent to 34 percent advantage over potential Republican primary opponent Rep. Martha McSally, according to an OH Predictive Insights survey.
  • 41 percent of Democrats think that Joe Biden “best represents the party and would make the best candidate against President Trump,” according to a Rasmussen Reports poll. Biden beat out Bernie Sanders (20 percent) and Elizabeth Warren (11 percent).
  • Men and women disagree over who should pay the bill on a first date. YouGov gave people five options: “the man,” “the woman,” “whoever initiated the date,” “they should pay for what they ordered” and “they should split the bill evenly.” The most popular choice among men at 40 percent was “the man,” while the most popular answer among women at 37 percent was “whoever initiated the date.”
  • A mere 31 percent of Americans who celebrate Thanksgiving told Marist College that they are eager to talk about politics at this year’s dinner. Most, 58 percent, are dreading it.
  • The percentage of Americans who are very or somewhat likely to do their Christmas shopping online this year is up to 65 percent, according to Gallup. That’s tied with shopping in discount stores and right behind shopping at department stores (72 percent). In 1998, the splits were 87 percent at department stores, 80 percent at discount stores and just 10 percent online.

Trump’s job approval rating

Trump’s job approval rating is at 38.2 percent, while his disapproval rating is at 56 percent. Last Friday, Trump’s approval rating was 38.1 percent to a disapproval rating of 55.7.

The generic ballot

Democrats hold a 46.8 percent to 38.8 percent advantage over Republicans on the generic congressional ballot. That’s down from last week, when Democrats were up 48.3 percent to 37.3 percent.


  1. By comparing results within pollster, we help to control for possible house and mode effects.

  2. This includes the first Strategy Research poll taken after the allegations. It does not include the latest Strategy Research survey.

Harry Enten was a senior political writer and analyst for FiveThirtyEight.