It seems like Sen. Luther Strange has everything going for him. An incumbent, he enjoys state-wide name recognition, the support of donors with deep-pockets, and most significantly the backing of the D.C. Republican establishment. But Strange might not survive his own primary.
With 22 percent of the vote, according to a new poll by JMC Analytics, Strange trails former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore with 30 percent and finds himself in "a statistical tie" with Rep. Mo Brooks at 19 percent.
More than a primary, the special Alabama Senate election has become something of a proxy war with outside conservatives warring against establishment Republicans. Ahead of the Aug. 15 Election Day, the Strange campaign dismissed the poll as an anomaly, while the Brooks camp heralded it as a sign of a long awaited surge.
"For this poll, a landline sample of likely households (based on recent primary participation) for an automated poll was chosen from the population registered to vote in the state of Alabama, and there were 500 completed responses to 11 poll questions" the poll summary read.
Though a small sample size, that's still notable because the quickly approaching election is essentially a race for second place. Minus a miracle, no one will win a majority and a September runoff will be required, a contest that Strange could conceivably miss.
"There's an outside chance of that," John Couvillon of JMC Analytics told the Washington Examiner. "Strange is polling in the low 20s even though there's a lot of money spent on his behalf. This should be a warning sign."
An aide in the Strange camp dismissed that possibility and insisted that internal polling showed Brooks sliding while Moore and Luther are holding steady. Three previous July polls by RRH Polling, Raycom News, and Cygnal all show Strange and Moore mostly neck and neck.
"Our campaign is surging at the exact right time," replied Clay Mills, Brooks' communications director. "Mitch McConnell and Luther Strange's attacks have failed, and Luther is stuck in neutral."
More than anyone, this is reason for McConnell and company to be nervous. They've poured more than $4 million plus significant political capital into the race. With a week to go, it's not certain that muscle will be enough for Strange to win.
Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.