In the eight days since the Washington Post published allegations that Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore engaged in sexual relationships with several teenage girls, he has plummeted in polls, with several now showing him trailing his Democratic opponent, Doug Jones.
On Friday, a Gravis Marketing poll showed Jones with a five-point lead, 47 to 42, a seven-point swing from the last result on November 10, one day after the story broke. “In the last week, the Alabama electorate has turned on Judge Roy Moore,” said Doug Kaplan, the managing partner of Gravis.
The result mirrored other findings. A Fox News poll on Thursday evening showed Jones with a remarkable eight-point lead over Moore. 50 to 42. In that poll, Jones had a 26-point advantage among women. And a National Republican Senatorial Committee taken Sunday and Monday had Jones up by a remarkable 12 points.
Taken together, the surveys show a race that is careening out of control for Moore — though with the election on December 12, there’s still ample time for him to avoid a hugely embarrassing upset.
Moore’s numbers highlight several factors that have worsened his standing, even beyond what might have been expected after such a damaging revelation.
Since the initial story was published, additional accounts of Moore’s misconduct and creepy behavior have emerged, undercutting his contention that the Washington Post had made the whole thing up. Moore’s relentless media-bashing may rile up his base, but is unlikely to convince those who have newfound doubts about his character. And his lawyers aren’t doing him any favors: On Wednesday, one resorted to handwriting trutherism to question whether Moore had actually signed the high-school yearbook of one of his accusers in 1977. Another tried to explain away Moore’s behavior with underage girls by making racist assumptions about MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi’s background.
Moore has also been all but abandoned by the national Republican Party, losing the funding of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Republican National Committee and the backing of every Republican senator except, curiously, Rand Paul. He is not completely without allies: The Alabama Republican Party still stands by him, and Alabama Governor Kay Ivey refused to take drastic measures that would have effectively blackballed him from the race, like moving the election altogether. (She also said she’d vote for him, grudgingly.) President Trump did not call for Moore to drop out, which might have torpedoed his chances of victory. But his defenders are increasingly few and far between.
Finally, Moore was never particularly popular among Alabama’s general population in the first place. Even before the allegations came out, he was only a few points ahead of Jones, on average, a thin margin for one of the deepest red states in the country. Given the chance to rebuke Moore, otherwise solid Republican voters have fled him in droves. If a Democrat ascends to high office in Alabama in 2017, it is squarely his fault.