Alabama Runoff Previews

USA Election Watch
3 min readJul 14, 2020


US Senate (Democratic Defense, Incumbent Running)

Republican Runoff

Candidates: Tommy Tuberville, Jeff Sessions

Overview: We start with the biggest race of the night, with 2 Republicans vying to take on incumbent Democrat Doug Jones, who won a 2017 special election in a stunning upset. Given Alabama’s red lean, this seat seems likely to be a Republican pickup, and this chance of being favored for a 6 year term has devolved into a fairly nasty primary. Initially, Sessions, who represented this seat prior to being appointed Attorney General, was favored to make a successful comeback bid. However, his now rocky relationship with Donald Trump has really damaged his chances and he has seen a major decrease in support as a result. As a result, former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville finished in first place in the March primary by a 33–31 margin over Sessions. While Sessions did very well in larger cities such as Birmingham, Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, and Montgomery, most of the rural communities in the state broke hard for Tuberville. Tuberville then was endorsed by Trump after the runoff, and has since had a consistent low double digit in polls in the race. However, a recent revelation by the Washington Examiner that Tuberville had only issued a one game suspension to a player accused of sexual assault has the potential to open the race up more. Tuberville has disappeared more from the public eye in the last few weeks and seems to be running out the clock and avoiding scrutiny. Tuberville is probably still favored, but one under-discussed turning point could be the Mobile area, which voted mostly for their Congressman Bradley Byrne in March. Whoever gets those votes could end up being the winner of this race. Overall, I think the odds of a Sessions upset aren’t large, but definitely still enough to make this worth keeping an eye on.

Prediction: Tommy Tuberville wins with 55% of the vote.

1st Congressional District (Republican Defense, Incumbent not running)

Republican Runoff

Candidates: Jerry Carl, Bill Hightower

Overview: As mentioned before, Congressman Bradley Byrne decided to run for US Senate instead of seeking re-election to his Mobile area seat. The two candidates to replace Byrne who advanced to the runoff are Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl and Former State Senator Bill Hightower, who also ran for Governor unsuccessfully in 2018. They finished with 39% and 38%, respectively, in the second half, and either could easily win this time around. Hightower is slightly more moderate than Carl and has seen some outside investment from the Club For Growth which could help, but the manner in which runoffs will bring out more partisan voters will benefit Carl. I think this could take a bit to be called.

Prediction: Jerry Carl wins with 52% of the vote.

Democratic Runoff

Candidates: Kiani Gardner, James Averhart

Overview: This is one of the toughest primaries to accurately predict, as turnout will likely be low without any other Democratic primary runoffs on the ballot in the state. In the first round, biologist Kiani Gardner led retired US Marine James Averhart 44–40, with a slight fundraising advantage as well. Since then, Gardner and Averhart have both tapped into separate issues affecting the Democratic base right now. Gardner has focused a lot on how the state has responded to COVID-19, while Averhart has campaigned on solving criminal justice issues. This runoff appears to be a pure tossup, with a slight edge to Gardner, although anything could happen

Prediction: Kiani Gardner wins with 51% of the vote

2nd Congressional District (Republican Defense, Incumbent not running)

Republican Runoff

Candidates: Jeff Coleman, Barry Moore

Overview: We now move to a district in the Southeastern part of the state which was vacated by Martha Roby. This runoff seems a little more straightforward, with Businessman Jeff Coleman looking to build on a big advantage of 38–20 over Former State Representative Barry Moore. Moore is definitely to the right of Coleman and tried unsuccessfully to primary Roby in 2018. It would be a pretty significant surprise if Coleman, who has a notable cash advantage, didn’t win, although runoff electorates can be surprising and a large turnout of the party’s base could help Moore.

Prediction: Jeff Coleman wins with 60% of the vote.



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