New ADN-Gray TV poll: Durant leads Britt, Brooks falls far behind

MARCH 22, 2022

By TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Mike Durant, the retired Army helicopter pilot of “Black Hawk Down” fame, leads a new poll in the race for U.S. Senate, with former Business Council of Alabama President Katie Britt running a close second and Congressman Mo Brooks falling far behind.

In a survey of likely Republican voters, 34.6% said they would vote for Durant if the election was held today, while 28.4% chose Britt and 16.1% chose Brooks. Just 14.1% remain undecided.

The poll was conducted by Cygnal on behalf of Alabama Daily News and Gray Television.

For Brooks, who for months has been considered the frontrunner in the race, the results show a precipitous slide. The same poll in August showed him leading the race with 40.8% of the vote. That’s a 24.7% drop in almost eight months.

In that same span, Britt has picked up more than 11 points from 17.7% in August. Durant was not included in the August poll because he was not a candidate at the time, demonstrating the swiftness of his ascent from unknown to frontrunner.

Brooks’ slide comes after several weeks of television and radio advertising attacking the Huntsville congressman on a number of issues, most notably comments he made in opposition to former President Donald Trump during the 2016 Republican presidential primary.

If the Republican primary election for U.S. Senate were held today, and you had to make a choice, who would you vote for? 

Candidate%
Mike Durant34.6%
Katie Britt28.4%
Mo Brooks16.1%
Lillie Boddie6.5%
Karla DuPriest0.0%
Jake Schafer0.0%
Undecided14.4%

One anomaly standing out in the survey is Lillie Boddie, a virtual unknown, polling at 6.5%. Cygnal pollster John Rogers speculated that voters could be confusing the name for Lindy Blanchard, who switched from the Senate race to the governor’s race in January and has been heavily advertising on TV and radio. Eight percent of women and 14% of voters 70 years and older chose Boddie.

“There is a small group of voters over the age of 70 who are confusing Lillie Boddie and Lindy Blanchard,” Rogers said. “They catch the tail end of a Blanchard TV ad, but may not precisely remember the name or relevant campaign a few weeks later, especially since Blanchard has run ads for both Governor and Senate. That confusion will dissipate as we enter the home stretch of the campaign and these voters begin to pay closer attention to the primary elections for both Senate and Governor.”

The survey also tested head-to-head runoff scenarios between the top three candidates. Both Durant and Britt held considerable advantages over Brooks. Durant led Britt by double digits in their runoff scenario.

And if the Republican primary election for U.S. Senate went to a runoff and the candidates were Mike Durant and Mo Brooks, who would you vote for?

Candidate%
Definitely Mike Durant37.6%
Probably Mike Durant19.7%
Total Durant56.7%
Definitely Mo Brooks12.2%
Probably Mo Brooks11.2%
Total Mo Brooks23.3%
Undecided20.0%

And if the Republican primary election for U.S. Senate went to a runoff and the candidates were Mo Brooks and Katie Britt, who would you vote for? 

Candidate%
Definitely Katie Britt33.7%
Probably Katie Britt16.9%
Total Katie Britt50.6%
Definitely Mo Brooks19.1%
Probably Mo Brooks9.2%
Total Mo Brooks28.3%
Undecided21.1%

And if the Republican primary election for U.S. Senate went to a runoff and the candidates were Mike Durant and Katie Britt, who would you vote for? 

Candidate%
Definitely Mike Durant33.1%
Probably Mike Durant14.2%
Total Durant47.4%
Definitely Katie Britt23.4%
Probably Katie Britt10.7%
Total Britt34.7%
Undecided18.5%

The survey also tested the popularity of former President Donald Trump and the potency of his endorsement among GOP voters. Trump remains exceedingly popular among Alabama Republicans, with 79.8% saying they have a favorable opinion of him while 16.9% said they had an unfavorable opinion. Compare that to the August poll, when Trump polled at 83.7% favorable versus 15% unfavorable.

Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Donald Trump? 

Response%
Very favorable58.3%
Somewhat favorable21.4%
Total favorable79.8%
Somewhat unfavorable6.8%
Very unfavorable10.1%
Total unfavorable16.9%
No opinion3.1%

The potency of Trump’s endorsement in Alabama political races has waned, however. Just 39.1% of Republicans say Trump’s endorsement would make them more likely to support a candidate, while 42.4% said it would make no difference. That’s a significant change from August, when a full 57.7% said Trump’s endorsement made it more likely they’d support a candidate.

Would Donald Trump’s endorsement of a candidate in Alabama make you more or less likely to support that candidate? 

Response%
Much more likely22.5%
Somewhat more likely16.6%
Total more likely39.1%
Makes no difference42.4%
Somewhat less likely4.5%
Much less likely9.4%
Total less likely13.8%
Unsure4.7%

This new information comes as the former president’s pick in the race may be in flux. Trump told Washington Examiner reporter David Drucker that he was considering taking back his endorsement of Brooks and taking a look at the other two candidates.

Finally, the survey tested Republican voters’ approval of U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, whose retirement is the reason for this Senate race. Brooks and Durant have at times attacked Britt for her work as Shelby’s chief of staff. But Shelby remains relatively popular among Republican voters with 56.7% saying they approve of the job he has done over his 30-year career in the Senate.

As you may know, Senator Richard Shelby is retiring this year after 30 years in the Senate. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Richard Shelby has served Alabama as Senator? 

Response%
Strongly approve26.4%
Somewhat approve30.3%
Total approve56.7%
Somewhat disapprove14.7%
Strongly disapprove9.5%
Total disapprove24.6%
Unsure3.9%
Neither approve or disapprove15.2%

The survey was conducted by Cygnal, an award-winning polling and predictive analysis firm based in Washington, D.C. 600 likely Republican voters were surveyed March 16-17 via interactive voice response and text message. The poll carries a margin for error of +/-4%.

TV and radio advertising tells the story 

According to ADN’s latest analysis of advertising data, Durant and political groups advocating for him make up the biggest spending block in the race.

Durant’s campaign has spent $1,979,096 in television and radio advertising to date. A pro-Durant super PAC called Alabama Patriots PAC has spent more with $2,153,174. That’s total positive spending of more than $4.1 million, a whopping figure in an Alabama primary so far.

The Katie Britt campaign is second in television and radio spending at $1,163,308 to date.  There are two pro-Britt super PACs running ads promoting her candidacy. Alabama Christian Conservatives Fund has spent $239,540 in pro-Britt ads and Alabama Conservatives Fund has spent $1,376,662. That brings total pro-Britt TV and radio advertising to $2.7 million, an impressive amount that is still dwarfed by Durant.

The Mo Brooks campaign has spent $63,111 on TV and radio advertising to date, which isn’t much at all. However, Brooks is bolstered by multiple supportive PACs, including the Club for Growth Action PAC that has spent $2,482,475 both in support of Brooks and against Britt. Also, the School Freedom Fund has spent $536,389 in support of Brooks.

Notably, Alabama Futures PAC has also spent $2,482,495 on TV and radio attacking Brooks, a factor that has clearly led to his downfall in the polls.

So far, only Durant has not been the subject of attack ads on TV and radio.

  • Pro-Mike Durant TV and Radio: $4,132,270 
  • Pro-Katie Britt TV and Radio: $2,779,510
  • Pro-Mo Brooks TV and Radio: $599,900 
  • Anti-Mo Brooks TV and Radio: $2,482,495
  • Pro-Mo Brooks / Anti-Katie Britt: $2,482,475

ABOUT MIKE DURANT

On October 3rd, 1993, during combat Operation Gothic Serpent in Mogadishu Somalia, “Super Six Four,” the Blackhawk helicopter flown by Mike Durant, was hit by an RPG and crashed in the city.

Mike and and his crew, Ray Frank, Bill Cleveland, and Tommy Field, all badly injured, fought for their lives as a violent mob approached. Witnessing what was about to happen from above, two members of the elite Special Operations unit Delta Force – MSG Gary Gordon and SFC Randy Shughart – volunteered to be inserted to defend them. They too were eventually overcome by the mob.

But Mike Durant, somehow survived, was captured and held as a POW by Somali General Mohamed Farrah Aidid.

The heroic actions of Gordon and Shughart – who were both posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor – are the reason Mike is alive today. Mike has seen sacrifice – fellow service members who put honor, country, and mission above all else. He knows firsthand that the United States leaves no one behind.

While in captivity, Mike heard the voice and promise of Dan Jollota broadcast from the sky:

“Mike Durant, we will not leave without you.”

Now, Mike is signing up for one more tour of duty to serve his country and Alabama in the United States Senate.

He’s watched as the Biden administration has deserted these core principles – abandoning our allies, along with American citizens, in Afghanistan; cowering to the influence of the Chinese as they evade responsibility for the Wuhan Virus; and letting the radical left open our borders and try and re-define the essence of what America stands for through misguided and distorted revisions of our history like “critical race theory”.

Mike believes that President Trump was the first President in his lifetime who always pushed for policies that put America first. That’s because he knows that America is more than just a country – it is a beacon of hope and freedom for the entire world.

President Trump knew it, Mike Durant lived it. And he will carry that vision forward in the U.S. Senate.

Mike Durant was released from captivity in Somalia after 11 days. He would later write a book titled In the Company of Heroes, about his experience on that mission in Somalia and the many other missions he participated in during his career. He also wrote The Night Stalkers, about the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) in which he served.

After retiring from the Army with 22 years of active-duty service, Mike moved to Alabama with his family to start a new chapter in his life. He started and grew a highly successful business – Pinnacle Solutions, an engineering and services company based in Huntsville.

In thirteen years, Pinnacle has grown from a home office-based startup to over 500 employees and more than 175 subcontractor personnel operating in sixteen US and international locations with major prime and subcontract efforts supporting the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, NASA and the U.S. Special Operations Command.

Mike has a Bachelor of Science degree in Professional Aeronautics and a Master of Business Administration in Aviation degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Mike’s military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star with Valor device, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, three Air Medals, one with Valor device, the POW/MIA ribbon, the Army Commendation Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, and numerous other awards.

He and his wife Lisa (also an Army Aviator) reside in Huntsville and have a family of six children, four boys and two girls, three grandchildren and a fourth on the way.