MO-Sen: Still a Very Tight Race for Claire McCaskill (D)

Public Policy Polling (PDF) (3/3-6, Missouri voters, Dec. 2010 in parens):

Claire McCaskill (D-inc): 45 (45)

Sarah Steelman (R): 42 (44)

Undecided: 14 (12)

Claire McCaskill (D-inc): 45

Todd Akin (R): 44

Undecided: 11

Claire McCaskill (D-inc): 46

Ed Martin (R): 40

Undecided: 14

Claire McCaskill (D-inc): 45

Ann Wagner (R): 36

Undecided: 19

(MoE: ±4%)

Tom Jensen takes the words right out of my mouth:

Less noteworthy than the difference between McCaskill’s single point lead against Akin and her nine point advantage against Wagner is that McCaskill’s support shows no variation from 45-46% across the four match ups. The Republicans get varying levels of support pretty much directly in line with their name recognition: 44% know Akin, 44% know Steelman, 34% know Martin, and only 26% know Wagner. The GOP field is largely anonymous at this point.

McCaskill’s leads, even as small as they are, shouldn’t be particularly reassuring for her. There are at least twice as many undecided Republicans as Democrats in each match up, suggesting that once the GOP candidates become better known they will probably catch up to her pretty quickly.

One thing to note, though, is that the gathering field for the GOP represents something of a B-team, especially with Akin unlikely to get in. And while the group as a whole, as Tom notes, is mostly unknown, they all have negative favorables among those who do know them, except for Steelman, who doesn’t fare much better with a flat even 22-22. I think a Steelman-Martin primary could be extremely toxic, and something McCaskill has to be rooting for.

If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that PPP has a 38D, 37R, 25I sample. That’s a lot less Dem than the 40D-34R that the 2008 exit polls had it as, but a little better than the than the 39R-37D 2006 exit polls.

50 thoughts on “MO-Sen: Still a Very Tight Race for Claire McCaskill (D)”

  1. are an annoying bunch. What has she done to piss them off?

    She’s going to secure her base fairly easily, I think, and perhaps will even outperform Obama by more than two points amongst Democrats. I’m not sure why, short of some serious gaffes, she’d go any lower than him amongst Independents. Perhaps she could even outperform him amongst them. Of course, if he wins them, I have to think she does, too, even if she doesn’t do a lot better.

    Whatever the case, seeing numbers like this make McCaskill’s moves to look like a moderate on spending look all the more obvious. If she can roughly break even with them, the Obama turnout machine will probably pull her the line. But if she can win then even by a 51 to 49 margin, she’s all but assured to get a second term. She’s getting about a third of them now against every opponent PPP mentioned, and as long as she gets about 40 percent of the ones that are undecided in these examples, I think she will be okay.

    One thing I am not seeing mentioned very much is the presence of third-party candidates. In both 2006 and 2010, Missouri had both a Libertarian Party and a Constitution Party candidate on the ballot. In both years, these guys pulled a fairly significant percentage of the vote. Can they help her at all in 2012?  

  2. McCaskill has on 36% approvalwith Independents and almost no crossover appeal.

    I can’t see Akin running, but Steelman or Wagner will make this extremely competitive, Marting? Maybe not.

  3. has to be a sign of worry.  I will not debate as to what the party ID mix will in 2012.  I can’t really say yet what  it will be?  Can anyone say for sure?

     I might add in 2004 the exits were 36R-35D-28I for MO.  2004 & 2010 had great voter blends for the GOP while 2006/2008 had favorable blends for the democrats.

    I might add, however, that as far as this senate race is concerned the killer number for McCaskill is the indie vote.  She trails Steelman & Akin among indies.  Plus nearly one third of the indies express no preference.  Missouri tends to be closely matched between the two parties but the candidate who wins the independent vote usually has the edge.  

  4. as jensen noted in their VA poll, some indies might just want to keep Obama, but give the republicans both chambers of congress.

  5. The GOP field here is actually rather mediocre, but, besides the gubernatorial race, Missouri doesn’t strike me as prime Dem territory for 2012. I think Obama will probably lose here by high single-digits (to a competent candidate, that is), while McCaskill outperforms him about about 3-5%. 45% just isn’t a hot approval for an incumbent Democrat in a pink state, and the crosstabs are atrocious. She’s already shored-up Democrats and the Independents who approve of her. To win, she’ll need some Indies who disapprove of her, and, unfortunately, Indies who are in a vote-splitting mood have Jay Nixon to go for.

  6. She’s remained the same, while her most potential opponent has dropped a couple of points. 45% is her base number, which is 4-6% off what she would need to win (49% can be a winning number).

    The over 50% rule is a bit overstated when it comes to these things, even candidates in bluer states sometimes hover below 50% and still can pull out a victory. A plurality lead still counts for something.

    Now, as for crossovers, these are the factors. The campaigns hasn’t started, McCaskill can make up ground then. Second, it depends on if the GOP nominee is the type who can get crossover votes. If Obama has another strong showing, then McCaskill will obviously outperform that. It’s hard to see anyone voting for Obama and not McCaskill, so the Republican nominee certainly can’t count on votes like that.

  7. No way to spin it, the Republicans are not popular, and any primary will just lead to whoever runs having worse favorables.

    It’s Missouri so it will always be essentially a tossup, but a competitive primary between not-liked candidates is pretty bad news for Republicans.  

  8. that these numbers actually don’t look bad at all for her.  This one is probably going to stay really close right up through next November, but I’m pretty confident she can pull it out.  Senator McCaskill is a tough, seasoned campaigner who gave as good as she got in a pretty brutal race against Jim Talent, didn’t really got too blown out in the rural areas, and got the base out in KC and STL.

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