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First poll in Alabama’s special election suggests it will be a tight race

Roy Moore, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in Alabama, greets supporters Tuesday at an election night rally in Montgomery, Alabama. Moore leads Democrat Doug Jones by less than 6 points, according to a new poll. The special election is scheduled for Dec. 12. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore leads Democrat Doug Jones by less than 6 points in the Alabama’s Senate race, according to an Opinion Savvy/Decision Desk HQ poll released Friday.

According to the survey, 50.2 percent of likely Alabama voters said they planned to vote for Moore, a former state Supreme Court justice, while 44.5 percent said they plan to vote for Jones, a former U.S. attorney. About 5 percent said they are undecided.

Moore’s margin is small for a significantly red state. In 2016, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) defeated his Democratic opponent 64.1 to 35.9 percent.

The special election is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 12.

Who is Roy Moore?

According to NPR, Moore is a controversial figure who was removed from the state Supreme Court for defying a federal district judge's order to remove a monument bearing the Ten Commandments that Moore had installed on the court's grounds. He later won back his seat on the court, only to be removed again for ordering state judges to defy the United States Supreme Court's 2015 ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

Moore doesn't just object to same-sex marriage — CNN noted that he said in a 2005 interview but he believes "homosexual conduct should be illegal." He made similar comments in 2015.

How did Moore win the Republican primary?

Moore’s victory followed a contentious Republican primary in which President Donald Trump and some of his populist supporters backed different candidates. Others suggested that the race had more to do with local Alabama politics and the legacy of an unpopular governor.

Sen. Luther Strange (R) was appointed by the state’s ex-Gov. Robert Bentley to the seat vacated by former Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions (R), who is now attorney general. Bentley resigned earlier this year amid a sex scandal.

Although Strange was endorsed by Trump, many of the president’s supporters — including former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon — backed Moore.

What about the Confederate monuments and the NFL?

The poll also asked likely voters about their views on national debates regarding the proper place of Confederate monuments and NFL players who kneel during the national anthem.

A majority of likely Alabama voters — 56.1 percent — “somewhat oppose” or “strongly oppose” efforts to remove Confederate monuments, while 34.6 percent “somewhat support” or “strongly support” those efforts.

Likewise, 53.4 percent “somewhat oppose” or “strongly oppose” NFL players who choose to kneel during the national anthem, while 41.6 percent said they “somewhat support” or “strongly support” those players.

One last thing…
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