Alabama Republican U.S. Representative Mo Brooks’ bid to replace retiring GOP Senator Richard Shelby has received a boost after former President Donald Trump withdrew his endorsement, according to a new poll.
A poll released on Thursday by Alabama Daily News and Gray Television shows Brooks in a statistical tie for the GOP nomination with current frontrunner Katie Britt, Shelby’s former chief of staff, despite the congressman having lost the support of the former president almost two months earlier. Brooks received Trump’s endorsement in April 2021 and was the early frontrunner.
However, Trump withdrew his endorsement on March 23 of this year after polls showed support for Brooks dwindling, explaining in a statement at the time that his former ally had made the “horrible mistake” of going “woke” by urging Republicans to put false claims of massive voter fraud in the 2020 election “behind” them.
In the new poll, which was conducted by Cygnal, Britt was supported by 30.8 percent of Republican voters in Alabama, while Brooks had the support of 28.5 percent—well within the poll’s 3.88 percent margin of error. Businessman Michael Durant, who was leading polls in March, was in third place with 24.3 percent.
Notably, other recent polls have continued to show Britt with a significant lead. An average of polls from RealClearPolitics, which did not include the new poll, showed Britt with an 8.5 percent lead over Brooks as of Thursday.
In the Cygnal poll, Brooks’ performance steadily increased after Trump pulled his endorsement. The Alabama Republican hit a low of 16.1 percent before the endorsement was pulled in March, while a poll released on May 6 showed support climbing to 22.5 percent.
Brooks’ best Cygnal polling numbers came in August 2021, when he enjoyed the support of 40.8 percent of GOP voters. That same month, Brooks was booed while telling attendees of a Trump rally in Cullman, Alabama, that they should “look forward” to future elections and “put that behind you” when considering “voter fraud and election theft in 2020.”
Cygnal pollster John Rogers told Alabama Daily News that a significant factor driving the recent Brooks polling surge was self-identified Trump supporters who were backing the congressman despite Trump’s disapproval, in addition to voters viewing his rivals in a more negative light.
“Both Durant’s and Britt’s negatives are going up, which means their net images are now close to Brooks’s near-waterline mark,” Rogers said, according to Alabama Daily News. “Brooks is getting a cleaner plurality now of Trump Republicans—he’s gone from garnering 26% of self-identified Trump Republicans up to 35%—and that is driving his rebound from March.”
The new poll was conducted among 634 likely Republican primary voters in Alabama on May 15 and May 16.
Trump indicated he would endorse a different candidate after withdrawing support for Brooks. He has yet to issue a new endorsement, although CNN reported on Thursday that Trump was “closely monitoring” the race.
In a statement to Newsweek, Brooks campaign co-chair Stan McDonald said that poll numbers were changing due to Britt being “exposed as a lobbyist” for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. According to a report published by AL.com earlier this week, a super political action committee (PAC) associated with McConnell recently donated $2 million to a super PAC working to defeat Brooks and elect Britt.
“Mo Brooks is surging because Katie Britt has been exposed as a lobbyist supported by Mitch McConnell who has flip flopped on being pro-life, has advocated for raising taxes, and is an open borders chamber of commerce shill,” McDonald said. “Meanwhile, using…