It doesn't matter who the Republicans or the Democrats nominate at this point for Governor in Alabama- the GOP candidate will be favored to win this fall.
The Republican leads by anywhere from 5 to 16 points in the eight match ups we looked at. Based on yesterday's primary polling the most likely contest right now is between Artur Davis on the Democratic side and Bradley Byrne on the Republican side, and Byrne leads 48-32 in such a scenario. He wins independents 41-25 and gets 84% of the Republican vote to Davis' 67% of the Democratic vote. It's important to note that there are more than twice as many undecided Democrats as Republicans, so if those voters ended up 'coming home,' this would be a much closer race.
The best Democratic hope for winning this fall may be if the Republicans end up nominating Roy Moore. He fares the weakest of the GOP contenders against both Davis and Ron Sparks, leading the former 43-37 and the latter 42-37. 12% of GOP voters say they would vote for Davis or Sparks over Moore, a larger portion of the base vote than any of the other Republican candidates are losing. Sparks even has a small lead among independents against Moore, something virtually unheard of for a Democrat in the South this election cycle.
Sparks polls better than Davis against all four of the Republicans we tested. He trails Byrne by 13 to Davis' 16 point disadvantage, is down 6 to Kay Ivey compared to Davis' 11, has a 5 point deficit against Tim James to Davis' 5, and trails by 5 against Moore to Davis' 6.
The Gubernatorial candidates are largely unknown at this point so things could shift a lot between now and the fall as voters in the state become more familiar with them. A majority of voters have no opinion about all of the candidates with the exception of Moore and Davis. 67% have a take on Moore, 56% do of Davis, 44% do of Ivey, 40% do of Sparks, 39% do of James, and 36% do of Byrne. Byrne is oddly the strongest candidate for both the general and primary elections despite his being the one voters are most ambivalent toward. In this political climate where voters dislike most all politicians it may be a good thing to be the candidate folks know the least about.
Republicans certainly have the advantage now, and it's going to be a tough road for Democrats to win something they don't currently hold in 2010 in a state as conservative as Alabama. But if the Republicans nominate Moore, or if Davis or Sparks really catches on once the voters become more familiar with them it could get interesting.
Full results here