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Poll: Roy Moore leads Republican field to challenge Doug Jones

A new survey suggests the former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice is currently favored by his state's GOP voters for a rematch against the Democratic senator in 2020.
Image: Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore arrives on his horse to cast his ballot in Gallant, Alabama
Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore arrives to cast his ballot in Gallant, Alabama, on Dec. 12, 2017.Carlo Allegri / Reuters

WASHINGTON — Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is leading the Republican field vying for the party’s 2020 nomination to challenge Sen. Doug Jones, the Democrat who beat Moore in 2017, according to a survey released Tuesday.

Moore leads among could-be GOP candidates with 27 percent in the poll from Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, just a year and a half after losing what was widely viewed as a safe seat for Alabama Republicans. He's trailed by three Alabama congressmen: Mo Brooks at 18 percent, Bradley Byrne at 13, and Gary Palmer at 11. The poll also suggests Moore holds a net approval rating in the state — 34 percent of voters view him favorably compared to 29 percent who view him unfavorably.

Out of the potential Republican candidates included in the poll, only Byrne has formally announced his candidacy. But Moore has suggested that he is interested in running again, and this poll could help him come to a decision. Fifty percent of registered Alabama voters say they want to replace Jones with a Republican.

Moore’s lead could be explained by his overwhelming name recognition among Republican voters compared to other potential candidates. Byrne and Palmer are unknown by roughly half of Republicans.

If nominated, it would be a rematch of the 2017 special election in which Jones was elected to replace Jeff Sessions after Sessions was chosen to lead the Justice Department.

Moore's campaign that year quickly unraveled after allegations surfaced that he had engaged in sexual misconduct with teenage girls when he was an adult. Moore, who had gained popularity by appealing to conservative evangelical voters, ultimately lost to Jones by less than 2 percentage points.

The Mason-Dixon survey of 625 registered voters was conducted April 9-11, and has a sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. For the Republican primary section of the poll, the sample was 400 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.