Republican nominee Roy Moore is now tied with Democratic candidate Doug Jones in the Alabama Senate race according to a new poll on Friday, just one day after reports surfaced alleging Moore engaged in sexual misconduct with a 14-year-old girl decades ago.
Moore and Jones are tied at 46 percent in the new poll by Decision Desk and Opinion Savvy, with 82 percent of respondents aware of the new allegations.
In an average of polls, which does not include the new poll, Moore is leading Jones by six points.
The new poll surveyed 515 likely voters and has a margin of error of 4.3 points.
Many Republican leaders in Alabama are standing by Moore and calling the allegations fake news.
Alabama’s Covington County GOP Chairman William Blocker told Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale he’d consider voting for Moore even if hard proof of sexual abuse emerged.
“There is no option to support Doug Jones, the Democratic nominee. When you do that, you are supporting the entire Democrat party,” Blocker said.
Tally from my calls to Alabama GOP county chairs: 4 vehemently pro-Moore, 3 no comment/"haven't read the story yet," 15 I couldn't reach, 0 criticism of Moore.
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) November 9, 2017
Alabama’s Bibb County Republican chairman Jerry Pow told Dale: “I would vote for Judge Moore because I wouldn’t want to vote for Doug (Jones). I’m not saying I support what he did.”
“It was 40 years ago,” Alabama Marion County GOP chair David Hall told Dale, who tweeted the GOP responses on his feed Thursday night. “I really don’t see the relevance of it. He was 32. She was supposedly 14. She’s not saying that anything happened other than they kissed.”
State lawmaker Ed Henry told the Cullman Times that he thinks Moore’s accusers should be prosecuted. “If they believe this man is predatory, they are guilty of allowing him to exist for 40 years. I think someone should prosecute and go after them. You can’t be a victim 40 years later, in my opinion,” Henry said.
Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler told the Washington Examiner, “The allegations are that a man in his early 30s dated teenage girls. Even the Washington Post report says that he never had sexual intercourse with any of the girls and never attempted sexual intercourse.”
Ziegler also claimed that there are biblical references that defend what Moore allegedly did.
“Take the Bible. Zachariah and Elizabeth for instance. Zachariah was extremely old to marry Elizabeth and they became the parents of John the Baptist,” Ziegler said. “Also take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus.”
“There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here,” Ziegler said. “Maybe just a little bit unusual.”