Greitens trims Koster’s lead as Trump surges in Missouri

CAMPAIGNS AND ELECTIONS-005

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – While Chris Koster leads Eric Greitens narrowly, Donald Trump has reopened a double-digit lead in Missouri and Amendment 3 faces a large deficit as the latest Missouri Times polling brings key races into focus with less than two weeks before polls close.

In the fluctuating race to be Missouri’s next governor, Koster’s lead has fallen to two points, 47-45, within the margin of error. Four percent of likely voters said they were undecided. Last week, Koster lead by seven in the poll.

Greitens’ rise has come as his campaign has sought to tie the Democrat Koster to his party’s nominee for president, Hillary Clinton. At the same time, the Missouri Republican Party has spent the last two weeks attacking Koster for taking campaign contributions from developers while serving on the Missouri Housing Development Commission and other campaign finance issues.

Greitens has also spent time campaigning with out-of-state Republicans, including Georgia Sen. David Perdue and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who could be helping to burnish Greitens’ reputation with skeptical conservatives.

The poll, conducted by Remington Research on behalf of the Missouri Times, has a margin of error of 1.94 percent. Remington surveyed 2,559 likely voters.

Despite overtures to traditionally Republican groups, including endorsements from the Missouri Farm Bureau and the National Rifle Association, the poll shows that Greitens takes Republicans 78-16 and Koster wins among Democrats 82-13. Among voters who don’t identify as Republican or Democrat, Koster leads 44-42.

With Greitens connecting Koster to Clinton, Trump’s surging numbers in the poll could be bringing Greitens with him.

Trump now leads 50-39 in Missouri at a time where he’s losing support in other red states like Arizona and Texas. Just four percent of voters said they were undecided.

Trump’s lead has more than doubled since the race was last polled. Then he led the Missouri Times poll by 5 points.

Support for Trump in Missouri comes from some surprising places, compared to national trends. According to the poll, he’s doing better with women in the state than men, winning women 52-40 and men 49-37.

Around the state, Trump trails by eight in the St. Louis media market and by one in Kansas City. He’s built his lead by running up the score in other parts of the state, pulling 60 percent support in Columbia, 61 in St. Joseph, 66 in Cape Girardeau, 67 in Springfield and 71 in Joplin.

Trump also dominates among voters who don’t identify by party ID winning those voters 50-30.

If Trump continues to perform this way among independent voters and women, he could lead the way for a strong performance for Republicans down ballot as well.

The Missouri Times also polled Amendment 3, the Early Childhood Health and Education Amendment, this week, showing a 13 point lead for the No side, 53-40. When polled earlier this month, Yes had a narrow 46-44 lead. Since that poll, Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association (MPCA) has launched a full campaign with member gas stations throughout the state. 

The amendment would raise the cigarette tax statewide, including a surcharge on small cigarette manufacturers, and send the fund raised to pay for early childhood health and learning.

Since the last poll, the No campaign has launched an ad linking the Yes side to its primary funder, RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company, whose brands include Camel, Newport and Pall Mall. Larger cigarette manufacturers could increase their profits with 67 cent surcharge on smaller manufacturers.

Seven percent of those polled said they were undecided on the amendment.

Republicans overwhelmingly oppose the amendment 58-37 while Democrats narrowly support it 48-46.

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