ALABAMA (WHNT) — A new poll shows retired Army pilot Mike Durant leading the race to replace U.S. Senator Richard Shelby – and incumbent Governor Kay Ivey dominating all her Republican challengers for the top job in Montgomery.
Durant, a first-time political candidate, leads the Senate race with 33%, 10 points above his closest Republican rival, Katie Britt, the former head of the Business Council of Alabama and Shelby aide.
U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, who up until last week, had the endorsement of former President Donald Trump — registered 12% support in the poll.
No other candidate received double-digit support, though 26% of respondents were undecided.
The poll of 1,047 Alabama residents was conducted as a joint effort between News 19, Emerson College and The Hill. The Republican primary portion of the poll has a sample size of 687 likely voters with a margin of error of ±3.7%. The poll was conducted over three days, March 25-27.
“While Durant holds a lead over Britt and Brooks in the primary, he is shy of the 50% [needed] to avoid a runoff in June,” said Spencer Kimball, executive director of Emerson College Polling. “Whether Durant or Britt clinches the nomination might depend on who former President Trump chooses to endorse.”
Trump withdrew his support of Brooks last week. He has pledged to endorse another candidate in the race but has yet to announce his choice.
Of those undecided in the race for U.S. Senate, 60% of them say they’re more likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by Trump, 27% said his endorsement would make no difference and 13% said it would make it less likely they would vote for that candidate.
“The majority (52%) of Republican primary voters say Donald Trump’s endorsement makes them more likely to support a candidate,” Kimball continued. “Senator Shelby’s endorsement holds less weight; 46% say it makes no difference to their vote.”
In the Republican primary for governor, Kay Ivey leads with 48%, just under the threshold necessary to avoid a runoff. Her leading opponents, businessman Tim James and former ambassador Lindy Blanchard, registered 11% and 8%, respectively. There are fewer undecided Republican voters for governor than senator, with just 22% of GOP voters reporting they are undecided.
“While Ivey is at 48% in the primary ballot test, she has a 64% approval rating among Republican primary voters, which might allow her to reach 50% to avoid a runoff,” Kimball explained. Across the political spectrum, Ivey enjoys a 52% approval rating from primary voters in general, while 33% disapprove.
On the Democratic side, a large majority of voters are undecided in both major statewide races.
In the race for U.S. Senate, Dr. Will Boyd led with 11%, followed by Victor Williams at 10%. No other candidates received double-digit support, though most of the Democratic electorate, 67%, remains undecided.
Similarly, the Democratic nomination for Governor of Alabama appears to be a wide-open race with 59% of respondents undecided. Retired rehabilitation specialist Yolanda Flowers is the only candidate in that race to clear double digits with 11%.
The Democratic primary sample consisted of 359 likely voters with a margin of error of ±5.1%.
All respondents, regardless of political affiliation, were asked about the kind of candidate they want to see in the office.
A majority of voters, 55%, said they wanted to see a political outsider elected as U.S. Senator, while 45% say they prefer a candidate with more political experience. That difference also became evident when broken down between the two parties: 68% of Republican primary voters said they wanted an outsider, while 69% of Democratic primary voters wanted someone with experience.
“The data suggests party affiliation is driving the type of candidate each party would like to see in office with Democrats looking for someone with years of political experience while Republicans are looking for a political outsider,” Kimball stated.
Other notable points from the poll:
- Just 34% of primary voters in Alabama approve of President Joe Biden, while 59% disapprove. Among Democrats, Biden holds a 78% approval rating whereas 85% of Republicans polled disapprove of the commander-in-chief.
- 42% of Alabama primary voters think marijuana should be legal for recreational purposes, but a plurality, or 47%, do not.
- 75% of those polled strongly or somewhat support the “Alabama Heartbeat Act,” a piece of legislation that would stop medical providers from performing abortions once a heartbeat is detected. 25% either somewhat or strongly oppose the bill.
- 37% of Alabama primary voters say laws covering the sale of firearms should be more strict. 17% say they should be less strict and 39% think they’re fine just as they are. Only 7% were unsure.
- 65% of those polled say Alabama runs fair elections, while 17% say the state does not.
- The poll found Democrats were much more likely to vote by mail, 24% to 8%, whereas Republicans were more likely to show up on Election Day, 91% to 76%.
You can view the crosstabs for this poll by clicking here.