(RNN) - U.S. Senator Luther Strange and former Chief Justice Roy Moore are in a statistical tie less than three weeks before the Republican Primary for a statewide special election for Alabama's U.S. Senate, according to an exclusive new poll by the Raycom News Network and Strategy Research out of Mobile.
The crowded Republican field finds only three candidates with double digit support. Sen. Strange received 35% support of "likely" registered voters; Moore received 33% and U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks appears to be a distant third with 16% in the survey.
Strange and Moore are the only two of a nine candidate Republican field who have ever been elected to statewide office. Rep. Brooks serves Alabama's Fifth Congressional District, which includes Huntsville.
"I don't want to to count Mo (Brooks) out," pollster Jon Gray of Strategic Research and Public Relations said. "He's got money and he just started spending on TV, but Judge Moore is neck and neck with Luther Strange."
VIDEO: Poll Methodology
Sixty-five percent of the registered voters in our exclusive poll identified as Republicans.
Among Democrats, Robert Kennedy, Jr., leads a field of seven candidates with 49%. The poll finds former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones second with 28%. The remaining field received support in the single digits.
"It shows how much voter I.D. really means," Gray said. "This Robert Kennedy is a young man from south Alabama and he's got a really good name."
Gray believes many people in the poll likely identified the name as the brother of the late President John Kennedy. That Robert Kennedy served as U.S. Attorney General and was assassinated in 1968 during a run for the Democratic nomination for president.
The random phone survey of 3,000 registered voters was conducted on Monday, July 24. Only "likely" voters responses are included in the candidate choices with a margin of error of plus or minus 2%.
Upon receiving details of the exclusive poll, several candidates expressed caution that a special election held in the summer as school resumes offers unique circumstances.
"They [polls] would have value if this were a normal general election where they have large turnout of voters, but this is a special election," Rep. Brooks responded about his showing in the poll.
Both Strange and Moore offered a cautious view.
"They make you feel good if you were leading, but the only poll that counts is the election day poll and I've been through this enough to know you have to earn every vote and get people to the polls to vote for you," Sen. Strange said.
"The only poll that really matters is the one on August 15th," Moore said. "In the meantime, I'll continue to push forward my message of strengthening our military, protecting our borders and repealing Obamacare."
Moore has mentioned in recent campaign events that polls suggest he will make the runoff and it will be a race to see who is in the runoff with him.
"Our message centers around three core concepts," Kennedy said. "Faith, family and freedom. And we believe if we govern based on our values and get away from all the soundbites and marketing slogans that we will be able to do better things for our state and our country."
"I actually am fairly encouraged by that poll that is strictly on name I.D. Because the moment people start hearing the stories of the candidates, we feel like we will get over the top pretty easily." Doug Jones said, stressing his campaign is focusing on "kitchen table" issues important to the voters.
Gov. Kay Ivey called the special election to finish the term of Sen. Jeff Sessions, who left office in February to become U.S. Attorney General. Gov. Robert Bentley originally appointed Strange, who was Alabama's Attorney General, to fill the term that ends in 2020. Once Bentley resigned from office at the start of an impeachment hearing, Ivey, who was Lieutenant Governor, moved into the governor's office. Ivey decided to set a special election following controversy about Bentley's decision to not immediately hold a special election.
Strange, who was elected Attorney General twice, has faced criticism about the Bentley appointment while his office investigated Bentley.
Moore, who was removed as Chief Justice by the state's Court of Judiciary in 2003, was once again elected to the position in 2012 before being removed again this year by the Court of Judiciary for charges he disobeyed a federal court order concerning marriage equality. Moore is an outspoken critic of same sex marriage.
"It is ironic that the two top candidates have the highest name I.D., but not for terribly good reasons," Gray said.
Alabama will hold the Democrat and Republican primaries for U.S. Senate on Tuesday, August 15. If no candidate receives 50% plus one vote in either primary, a runoff for that primary will take place September 26 with a General Election scheduled for December 12.