The problem with Fox’s Alabama Senate race poll

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The Alabama Senate race is all tied up, according to a Fox News poll released Tuesday. The only problem? The poll doesn’t screen for likely voters.

The Fox poll has Republican nominee Roy Moore and Democratic nominee Doug Jones tied at 42 percent. The results are striking for the deep red state, as Fox notes in their story.

“Donald Trump won Alabama by 28 points in 2016, yet the Steve Bannon-backed Moore defeated the president’s favored candidate, incumbent Luther Strange, in the GOP primary,” Fox writes.

What’s also striking is what an outlier the poll is, as all other available polls of the race found Moore leading by between six to eight points.

Fox finding the contenders neck and neck is likely explained in large part by the fact that the poll did not screen for registered or likely voters, meaning the pool of respondents is much larger than the pool that will actually go to the polls on election day.

As HuffPost’s Ariel Edwards-Levy noted on Twitter, the likely voter screen is especially important because, despite the attention the race has gotten, it’s a December special election in an off-year.

It’s also worth noting that polling in general — and special election polling in particular — is often unreliable, and even other polls that do screen for likely voters may be wrong on election day. The final result comes down to voter turnout, which is very difficult to predict.

The Fox poll did reveal some other interesting points, however, about how Moore and Jones are being received.

According to the poll, 42 percent of Moore’s supporters have some reservations about their candidate, while just 28 percent of Jones’ supporters expressed the same sentiment. Moore’s supporters cited his Christian beliefs and party loyalty as reasons for supporting the Republican, while Jones’ supporters cited party loyalty and the belief that Moore is too extreme.

Moore, who is baked by former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, has said he thinks homosexuality should be illegal and that Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to serve in Congress.

In recent days, however, Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY) both endorsed Moore’s candidacy.

Twenty-nine percent of the people polled by Fox said they felt Jones was too liberal to represent Alabama, but 39 percent of people — including 24 percent of Republicans — said they felt Moore was out of step with Alabama.

Additionally, the group polled by Fox has a more positive than negative reaction to the Confederate flag, according to the poll. Twenty-six percent of people polled said they have a positive reaction, while 21 percent said negative, and 51 percent said they have no reaction either way.

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