Early polling conducted as candidates consider 2020 U.S. Senate run
Yellowhammer News has obtained primary polling data featuring four Republicans who are considering running for the United States Senate against Sen. Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) in 2020.
The poll surveyed 913 respondents on their first preference out of the given choices, showing Lieutenant Governor-elect Will Ainsworth at 23 percent, Congressman Bradley Byrne at 22 percent, Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh at 11 percent, State Auditor Jim Zeigler at 10 percent and 34 percent undecided.
These topline results were tweeted out first by Young Alabama.
While polling in the earliest “exploration” phase of races can drive fundraising and help build momentum, remember that these early numbers are almost completely based off of name identification.
Ainsworth just got off his first statewide campaign, which featured a heavy amount of television advertising, while Byrne ran statewide in 2010 and Zeigler has run statewide ten times throughout his career. Marsh has never run statewide.
Breaking the numbers down by media market reveals some geographic strengths, which are always important in a contested primary with a host of candidates.
The Mobile media market unsurprisingly went heavily for its congressman. Byrne garnered 70.6 percent of that region, followed by Ainsworth at 7.5 percent, Ziegler at 3.1 percent and Marsh at 1.9 percent. 16.9 percent of respondents were undecided.
In Huntsville, Ainsworth – who lives in North Alabama – was top dog by a significant margin. He received 36.5 percent, Marsh got 12.4 percent, Byrne 8.4 percent and Zeigler 7.3 percent. 35.4 percent were undecided.
The state’s largest media market (Birmingham) was tight between Ainsworth and Marsh, who ran a solid television buy in that region this general election cycle. Ainsworth polled at 20 percent, Marsh received 18.8 percent, Byrne 11.2 percent and Zeigler 9.8 percent. 40.2 percent were undecided.
The Montgomery media market (which contained the Wiregrass in this polling) was a complete toss up, with Zeigler performing his best here. Ainsworth chalked up 19.5 percent, Zeigler garnered 18 percent, Byrne 17 percent and Marsh 7 percent. 38.5 percent were undecided.
Byrne has been very proactive in traveling the state while he strongly considers running; he has been mostly alone in this category.
However, Ainsworth, who was just traveling across Alabama for the past eighteen months or so campaigning, is now beginning to make moves of his own behind the scenes. Recent meetings in Washington D.C. will only add to the speculation that he could throw his hat in the Senate ring.
Obviously, this will not be the final field of Republican candidates in 2020. One or more of these four may end up deciding against a run after exploring, pondering and praying, and there are other potential major candidates that could very well jump in.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn