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Poll: Roy Moore leads Republican field to challenge Doug Jones

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Image: Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore arrives on his horse to cast h
Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore arrives on his horse to cast his ballot in Gallant, Alabama on Dec. 12, 2017. -
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Carlo Allegri Reuters
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WASHINGTON — Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is leading the Republican primary among potential candidates for the party's nomination to challenge Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) in 2020, according to a new survey.

Moore leads among could-be GOP candidates with 27 percent in the newly released poll from Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, just a year and a half after his loss of what was widely viewed as a safe seat for Alabama Republicans. He's trailed by three Alabama congressmen: Mo Brooks at 18 percent, Bradley Byrne at 13, and Gary Palmer at 11. The poll also suggests Moore holds a net approval rating in the state — 34 percent of voters view him favorably compared to 29 percent who view him unfavorably.

Out of the potential Republican candidates included in the poll, only Byrne has formally announced his candidacy. But Moore has suggested that he is interested in running again, and this poll could help him come to a decision. Fifty percent of registered Alabama voters say they want to replace Jones with a Republican.

Moore's lead could be explained by his overwhelming name recognition among Republican voters compared to other potential candidates. Byrne and Palmer are unknown by roughly half of Republicans.

If nominated, it would be Moore's second time going head-to-head with Jones. The two ran against each other in the 2017 special election to replace Jeff Sessions after Sessions was chosen to lead the Justice Department.

That election could have been a smooth win for Moore. But his campaign quickly unraveled after allegations surfaced that Moore had engaged in sexual misconduct with teenage girls when he was an adult. Moore, who had gained popularity by appealing to conservative evangelical voters, ultimately lost to Jones by less than 2 percentage points.

The Mason-Dixon survey of 625 registered voters was conducted April 9-11, and has a sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. For the Republican primary section of the poll, the sample was 400 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.