HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- In less than three months, U.S. Army Capt. Clayton Hinchman will challenge Congressman Mo Brooks during the Republican Primary for Alabama’s 5th Congressional District. Hinchman's campaign shared exclusively with WHNT News 19 the results of a poll they commissioned to be conducted from Feb. 22 - 24.
Hinchman's campaign says the live call poll randomly sampled heavy Republican voters in the district using the most current list of Republicans who voted in the last three elections. The campaign purchased the list from the Republican Party. Hinchman’s campaign said the purpose of the poll was to measure Congressman Mo Brooks strengths for re-election and Hinchman's strength as a candidate. There was a 5% margin of error.
"Eight-two percent of our respondents wanted a non-career politician and somebody who is actually going to support President Trump's agenda," Clayton Hinchman explained in an interview with WHNT News 19.
The results showed Hinchman with a 10-point lead over Brooks at 36.6% to 26.6% with 36.9% undecided when asked questions about whether they would prefer Hinchman to Brooks. WHNT News 19 received a copy of the poll questions and the wording raises concerns, referring to Hinchman as "a combat veteran" and "successful businessman" while referring to Brooks as "a career politician" and telling respondents he was "part of the swamp."
Questionable Wording from Poll
7. If you had a choice between vote for Mo Brooks, a 36-year politician and incumbent or Clayton Hinchman, a combat veteran who lost his leg in Iraq hunting down Al-Qaeda and now is a successful businessman, who would you be more likely to vote for Clayton Hinchman a war hero and successful businessman or Mo Brooks, a career politician who is part of the swamp President Trump wants to clean out?
When pressed about the leading questions, Hinchman told WHNT News 19, "Those questions really are to make sure that individuals know about our story and learn more about myself being a combat veteran and business owner."
WHNT News 19 asked Congressman Mo Brooks about the phrasing of some of the questions.
"Obviously, it's what we call a push poll. Where you are trying to change people's opinions. It's not a poll question that is designed to get the true perception of voters in The Tennessee Valley," Congressman Mo Brooks explained.
Brooks said his campaign has conducted their own poll. He said they surveyed more than 500 likely Republican voters and he claims his results showed Hinchman down by 57 percentage points.
"When you're down that much you often go negative and it's unfortunate that's the path he has taken. But that's pretty much the path he's taken since day one," said Brooks.
Rep. Brooks said his record shows voters are happy with the job he has done.
"Anytime you win an election by 60% or more; the highest election being around 80%, that’s a pretty good approval rating by the people who employ you. To me, those people are the citizens of the Tennessee Valley," Congressman Mo Brooks said.
Those who took the poll gave the Congressman a 19.4% approval rating, a job performance rating from average to excellent at 52.6% and a disapproval rating of 47.4%. Most of the questions were geared towards measuring the congressman rather than Hinchman
We asked WHNT News 19 political analyst Jess Brown for his take on the poll. He called the wording loaded and added, "Ultimately you will know if Brooks is vulnerable by the folks who are willing to give Hinchman some campaign dollars."
The poll also queried voters for their opinion about the most important issues facing our country. The top response at 24.6% was stopping illegal immigration and the lowest response at 1.4% for job creation.
WHNT News 19 asked the Hinchman campaign the name of the company that conducted the survey. The campaign declined to reveal it citing a confidentiality clause. But, they claimed the company has been used for "many campaigns and they have been very accurate."
The Primary is on Tuesday, June 5.