It once seemed Republican candidate Roy Moore was a shoo-in to become the newest senator from Alabama. But after the explosive allegations that he had sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl decades ago, Democratic contender Doug Jones is rising in the polls. A poll by JMC Analytics and Polling published on Sunday shows Jones with 46 percent to Moore’s 42 percent.
The results are within the poll’s margin of error of 4.1 percentage points—and nine percent remain undecided—but it still demonstrates just how much the Senate race in Alabama has changed since the Washington Post’s story last week. The poll marks the first time Jones has come out ahead in a poll and marks a reversal from the previous survey that found Moore ahead by eight points. The poll also shows how Moore has seen support slip among both men and women. While support for Moore among women was tied at 42 percent in October, now he is trailing by six percentage points. Moore is now tied among male voters at 47 percent, a huge decrease from the 54-38 percent margin he enjoyed in October.
A previous poll released Friday had the race tied 46-46 while other surveys of public opinion that were published after the Post story showed that while support for Moore was decreasing, he continued to be ahead.
Republicans are apparently seeing the writing on the wall and are increasingly coming out against Moore even if they don’t automatically side with his accuser. Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, for example, said Moore should step out of the race and Republicans should back a write-in candidate. “We’ll probably never know for sure exactly what happened. But from my point of view, you know, I have to say I think the accusations have more credibility than the denial. I think it would be best if Roy would just step aside,” Toomey told NBC’s Meet the Press. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina sounded a similar tune in Face the Nation. “The denial was not as strong as the allegations,” Scott said. “We have to find a way to restore trust and confidence in our elected officials, in our government. And this goes in the wrong direction.”
On Friday, Republican Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Steve Daines of Montana pulled their endorsement of Moore. On Saturday, Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana pulled his endorsement while Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee highlighted that he was always against Moore’s candidacy: “I’m sorry, but even before these reports surfaced, Roy Moore’s nomination was a bridge too far.”
Trump has so far dodged the question about whether Moore should step down as several White House officials said that the candidate should step down if the accusations against him are accurate. But they all refused to say flat out whether they believed the claims were accurate. “There’s no Senate seat more important than the notion of child pedophilia Chuck, I mean that’s reality,” White House legislative affairs director Marc Short said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “But having said that, he has not been proven guilty. We have to afford him the chance to defend himself.” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin also sounded a similar tune, saying “people should investigate this issue and get the facts.” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway espoused a similar sentiment on ABC’s This Week: “I also want to make sure that we as a nation are not always prosecuting people through the press.