In 2018, Democrats are defending ten Senate seats in states that were won by Donald Trump in 2016. One of those seats consistently regarded as one of the most vulnerable is Claire McCaskill in Missouri. A new Gravis Marketing poll of registered voters in Missouri gives Claire McCaskill a narrow 42%-40% edge over likely general election opponent, State Attorney General Josh Hawley. 18% of voters remain undecided.
Gravis Marketing Managing Partner Doug Kaplan noted that “This is a state that was a purple state in 2000, but has become quite red over the past 18 years. This will be a very close race. The Senate might hinge on this race.” Democrats need to net two seats to win the Senate. With options limited to Nevada, Arizona and Tennessee with more outside chances in Mississippi and Texas, Democrats will need to minimize loses among Trump state incumbents like Clare McCaskill. Trump won Missouri by 18.5% in 2016.
Kaplan points out that despite McCaskill’s slight edge today, “there are certainly numbers that she should be concerned about.” Voters give McCaskill a lackluster 42%-43% job approval spread while her opponent has a 37%-34% approval rating. While Hawley’s numbers are not stellar, he has more room to grow. While only 14% of voters are uncertain about McCaskill, 29% say the same about Hawley. Roy Blunt narrowly won a 2.79% plurality in 2016 to win a second term while Donald Trump was trouncing Clinton in the state. Blunt holds a 33%-48% approval rating, which is constant with how far he under performed Trump in 2016.
One possible red flag for Hawley is the make up of the undecided voters in the poll. While only 14% of Republicans are undecided at this point, 23% of Democrats are currently undecided. McCaskill holds a 47%-37% edge among independents in the poll with 17% undecided. The age of the undecided voter is also lower than the decided voter. 30% of 18-29 and 25% of 30-44 year-olds are undecided compared to only 8% of 55-64 years old and 6% of those 65 or older. There are also more female undecided voters (23%) than male undecided voters (13%).
The race for state Auditor was also tested among voters. While 29% remain undecided, Democratic incumbent Nicole Galloway leads Republican Paul Curtman 36%-34%.
Donald Trump’s approval rating has taken a hit in Missouri, but he still remains more popular than recently indicted Governor Eric Greitens. Trump holds a 46%-50% approval spread, while Greitens is at 34%-50%. Voters are split (37%-37%) on whether Governor Greitens should resign. Multiple Republican members of the Missouri legislature have called on Greitens to resign.
The Conservative lean of the state is highlighted in the questions Gravis asked voters about various issues. Voters approve of the Tax Reform law 37%-35% and say they would be more likely to support a candidate that supported the bill by a 36%-29% margin. Voters are split over whether there should be a full ban on the ability to obtain an abortion in Missouri 42%-42%. The President’s immigration reform plans are also above water among voters by a 47%-42% margin.
The bipartisan support for increased gun control was something that may have shifted recently after the recent. Parkland School Shooting in Florida. 84%-11% support universal background checks, 70%-24% support raising the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21 and 49%-40% support a ban on all semi-automatic weapons.