A new poll shows that Trump’s outspoken advocacy for Roy Moore is having a big impact in the Alabama primary, despite the multiple allegations of sexual assault against the Republican Senate candidate.
The number of Trump supporters who believe the assault allegations to be true has decreased substantially, helping to prop Moore up. Ten days ago, 16 percent of Trump supporters believed the women, compared with 51 percent who didn’t. Today, just 9 percent say they believe them, while 63 percent believe the women to be lying.
The shift follows a series of strong defenses of Moore by Trump — in contrast to Senate Republicans, who seem extremely eager to distance themselves from the Alabama Senate candidate. “He totally denies it, he says it didn’t happen,” Trump told reporters last week. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had previously indicated that Trump wasn’t prepared to rescind his September endorsement when he tweeted that Moore “[s]ounds like a really great guy.” On Sunday morning — when Change Research began their two-day poll — Trump sent out two tweets which doubled-down on his decision to support Moore. “Can’t let Schumer/Pelosi win this race,” he tweeted. “Liberal Jones would be BAD!”
Moore has re-opened his 49 – 44 lead over the Democrat Doug Jones, according to progressive polling outlet Change Research. His lead is now as large as it was prior to November 9th, when the Washington Post first broke the story about a string of sexual assault allegations against Moore.
Over the last two weeks there has also been a concerted effort among right-wing groups to raise doubts in voters minds about the allegation of sexual assault against Roy Moore — who himself has called them all “fake news”. On November 15th some Alabama voters received a voicemail from “Bernie Bernstein”, who claimed to be a Washington Post reporter offering a reward of up to $7000 for damaging information on Roy Moore. Yesterday, Project Veritas, a Trump-backed conservative group, was widely ridiculed after it emerged they’d tried (and failed) to sell the Washington Post a fake news story about how Roy Moore had impregnated a woman when she 15 and she’d been forced to get an abortion.
While these attempts seem humorously incompetent, they and the wider efforts of the right-wing media seem to have been successful in raising doubts about Roy Moore’s accusers in the mind of Alabama voters — and not just Trump supporters. When the allegations against Moore broke, voters believed them by a margin of 46 to 30 percent according to Change Research, however that margin has now decreased to 42 to 38 percent. The allegations also seem to have helped solidify Moore’s Republican base — 88 percent of those who had voted for Donald Trump said they would now “definitely” vote on December 12, compared with just 82 percent in mid-November.
Among those who thought the allegations were fake, poling found that barely anything could change their mind — despite the multiple, corroborate stories from a variety of national and local media outlets. Only two percent said they’d change their mind if more accusers came out, and one percent said they’d believe the charges if Trump said he did. An astonishing 97 percent said nothing would make them believe they were true.
Change Research’s numbers don’t account for eventual turnout on the December 12th election, which will be crucial in determining whether Jones or Moore will eventually be the winner. However the polling does show how Moore, with the help of Trump, has succeeded in reversing his fortunes and in effect shrugging off the multiple, corroborated stories of historic sexual assault.