When the federal courts redrew Alabama's second congressional district in favor of Democrats, some in the Alabama Republican Party felt they were given a political death sentence by being forced to give up a solid Republican U.S. House seat.

However, after a strong showing in last Tuesday's primary election for AL-2, Republicans now think they have a fighting chance. Just 161 votes separated Democrat and Republican voters at the ballot box, with the parties receiving 57,129 and 56,968 votes, respectively.

"It is certainly winnable! Many factors will play a role, not the least of which is turnout," State Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore), a former Republican candidate in the race who almost made the Republican run-off, said. "Another factor is the regional differences between Mobile and Montgomery. The competition between these two population centers will play a major role in this race and in Alabama politics as a whole."

Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth said he also felt good about a potential GOP victory.

"With Republicans excited and energized about returning Donald Trump to the White House and even the most hardcore Democrat ambivalent at best about Sleepy Joe's campaign, voter enthusiasm is clearly on the side of the GOP nominee in the second congressional district," he said.

Ainsworth added, "A well-funded, well-organized Republican has a better than even chance of winning the CD2 race, especially with the Democrat congressional candidates espousing liberal extremist beliefs that are far outside those held by the vast majority of Alabamians."

This has set a political firestorm among Republicans in Alabama. Consultants who had long been saying the race is winnable now have some proof to back up their polling to show leadership, specifically the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). 

The NRCC is the strong political arm of the U.S. House Republican caucus, designed for these close races. It allows candidates to fundraise and utilize resources not usually available to them to win in these tough districts. According to political consultants that1819 News spoke to, the NRCC's support for the eventual nominee will be an absolute necessity if a Republican is to win this seat.

1819 News also contacted a senior statewide political consultant who had recently polled the district. The consultant said, "Turnout from March 5 shows the Second congressional district is a toss-up at least. Anyone who signifies this district as "likely Democrat" isn't looking at the facts."

"Data from across the country shows Republican voters are energized to vote against Biden at a higher rate than Democrats are to reelect him," the consultant added. "Specifically, Trump's momentum with Black males and Biden's lackluster effort to gain traction with white females."

Former Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said about the race, "The margins between the normal Democrat and Republican voter participation in the newly created congressional district 2 would indicate that the likelihood of a Republican being elected in November 2024 is extraordinarily high."

"President Trump will be the Republican nominee, and he is the largest vote-getter in the history of the state of Alabama!" he continued. "The number of people who will participate on November 5 is more than likely going to surpass those historic participation numbers in 2020 once again!" 

He caveated that a Democrat could very well win in 2026.

"The number of people who typically participate in our gubernatorial election in Alabama is less than presidential year participation," he said. "It should be noted that only 21 people in the history of the state of Alabama have ever been elected to Congress and served one term before vacating the office voluntarily or being defeated at the polls."

Pre-election day polling may have led to Joe Reed's effort to remove the two top Democratic vote-getters, Alabama House of Representatives Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Huntsville) and Shomari Figures. 

Daniels called out Reed with the "Bless their hearts" approach. However, Figures took a much harder stance and slammed Reed in a full-page statement, pointing out flaws in Reed's organization and himself within the Democratic Party. He also pointed out how his own endorsed candidate, State Rep. Napoleon Bracy (D-Chickasaw), had taken money from Republican donors, something 1819 News uncovered that most Democrat candidates did.

Figures even went as far as to say, "If Joe Reed is concerned about finances, he should focus on sharing ADC's financial reports, which many members claim to not have seen in decades." 

Montgomery and Mobile Counties led both parties in total votes, with the Democrats receiving more votes in Montgomery and the Republicans more in Mobile. Following those two counties, the rest of the new AL-2 was in rural areas, and the highest vote count came out of Pike County, where Republicans received 3,400 votes to the Democrats' 1,717.

Outside of a decent lead in Montgomery County, Democrats seriously outperform Republicans in the two small counties of Macon and Bullock. Republicans, on the other hand, took Mobile County and are beating Democrats by large numbers in Pike, Monroe, Washington, Butler and Crenshaw Counties. Barbour and Conecuh County Republicans won as well but by smaller margins. That leaves tiny Clarke County, where neither side broke 1000 votes, but the Democrats did outperform there.

Alabama State Auditor Andrew Sorrell, who won a contested general election against a Democrat in 2018 for a State House seat, said, "I have a little bit of experience winning a swing district. Back in 2018, I flipped HD3 from Democrat to Republican and was the narrowest win in the state House and 1 of 5 pickups the Republican Party had." 

He said grassroots, casting a wide net to voters you may not believe will vote for you or have heard of you, contacting newly registered voters, and running to the center doesn't work. People follow leadership, and that's what the voters will be looking for in their candidate, he said, adding that it paid off for him in his contested election.

State House Republican Majority Leader Scott Stadhagen (R-Hartselle) said, "Every major player in Democrat politics from Mobile to D.C. was trying to turn their vote in heavily blue-leaning CD2 during the primary and, yet, the blue and red voter turnout was separated by less than 200 votes."

"This congressional seat is very much in reach for a Republican victory, and that is exciting. Voter identification and turnout are dying arts that most political consultants no longer focus on as much as they used to, but if that is the focus of the GOP nominee, I am confident that CD2 will remain a Republican seat," he added.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email Bradley.cox@1819news.com or on Twitter @BradleyCoxAL

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