MOBILE, Ala (WKRG) — A new WKRG-TV Nexstar Broadcasting poll shows there is little doubt incumbent Governor Kay Ivey will finish first in next week’s Republican primary. The question is, will she avoid a runoff? And if she doesn’t, what kind of race can she expect in a runoff election in June?
The poll, conducted by Emerson College and The Hill, shows Ivey slipping slightly from a similar poll in late March. 46-percent of Republicans say they plan to vote for Ivey. Tim James is second with 17-percent.
“My focus is Kay Ivey,” James said. “I expect a runoff with Kay Ivey.”
Lindy Blanchard has the support of 11 percent, according to the poll. 14-percent are still undecided. There are a total of nine candidates in the race.
“I think it’s more likely than not that she gets above that 50-percent threshold,” said Quin Hillyer, a Mobile-based national political writer. “But if she doesn’t, whoever gets in a runoff with her is in a whole new ballgame.
Mobile-based political strategist Jon Gray agrees.
“If you’re an incumbent, and you end up in a runoff, it’s tantamount to the buzzards flying overhead,” said Gray. “Something is wrong.”
If she doesn’t get a majority, Hillyer and Gray say it will be an interesting four weeks to the runoff.
“If that happens, Katie bar the door,” said Gray. “They’re going to come after Kay and I think we are going to see a very difficult election for her in June.”
“I think she’s very vulnerable if she gets pulled into a runoff,” added Hillyer.
Gray, however, says the second-place finisher will have to show some promise, getting at least 20-percent of the vote, or they will have trouble raising money for the runoff.
“If Kay Ivey has 47-percent and the next closest has 12-percent, that’s a huge gap to try to close,” he said.
Four years ago, Ivey faced four challengers in the primary and got 56-percent of the vote.