Does the Exit Polling and Turnout in Alabama Favor the Democrats?

Posted at 7:59 pm on December 12, 2017 by Joe Cunningham

U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore’s campaign signs are seen during a campaign rally, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, in Fairhope Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

As the polls close, there is scant information that seems to indicate one way or another how this race is Alabama will turn out.

You have, in one hand, a relatively low turnout – about 25% total once the day is done, according to state officials. Low turnout in special elections would typically favor the Republican. However, we’ve also seen reports that black turnout in Alabama was higher than usual, which suggests higher Democratic turnout.

More interestingly is this statistic from CBS News, which bodes well for Moore.

Most voters casting ballots in Alabama’s special election for U.S. Senate say they decided on their candidate some time ago, according to early exit polling. Six in 10 made up their minds before November – largely prior to when allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against Republican candidate Roy Moore.

That’s good news, and it largely fits with what we have assumed from Alabama since the allegations broke: This is more about party than person. However, there is a catch:

Still, nearly four in 10 say they made their decision in November or after that, including about one in five who decided this month.

It can be a difference maker, but it doesn’t mean that those folks switched from Republican to Democrat.

More interesting still is how much of a factor Donald Trump is. Among Republicans, according to CBS’s exit polling, six in 10 voters voted for Moore to support Trump. The Democrats, however? Largely unmotivated one way or the other by Trump. Their focus is more on their candidate.

That matches up with another exit polling result – Jones voters are more motivated than Moore supporters. About 60% of Jones’ supporters are highly motivated for Jones, whereas only about half (if that) of Moore’s supporters are motivated for Moore.

All of this is, however, is largely speculation. Exit polling is an imprecise science, and there is a lot of it that has been embargoed by the networks.