JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Seven weeks before Election Day, Attorney General Chris Koster’s lead in the weekly Missouri Times tracking poll has grown to ten points over Republican Eric Greitens.
In two other races polled this week, Republican Jay Ashcroft leads Democrat Robin Smith by ten points for secretary of state while Josh Hawley holds a 9 point lead over Democrat Teresa Hensley for attorney general.
Koster’s lead continues to grow since receiving the National Rifle Association – Political Victory Fund endorsement earlier this month. It capped a period of receiving several traditionally Republican endorsements, including the Missouri Farm Bureau and the Missouri Soybean Association.
“Republicans are experiencing a surge on all ballots except governor,” said Remington Research’s Titus Bond. “Keep an eye moving forward to see if Republicans come home for Greitens. If they do, it could very well end up being a clean sweep statewide for the GOP.”
This week, Koster checked in with 47 percent of likely voters, down one from last week but within the margin of error. Greitens lost two points, also within the margin of error, to 38 percent. Thirteen percent of likely voters said they were undecided.
Eddy Justice, 8th Congressional District Republican Chairman, said he could see the lead growing before the race tightens in November.
“We’re still early in this short general election cycle. Until there’s 3 weeks left, it’s probably going to stay like this and it could even grow,” he said on the MOLeg Podcast. “If I had to guess, it’ll be 2 points or less if everything continues like we expect them to. It’s almost impossible to say which way it will go.”
House Speaker Todd Richardson thought the poll results showed the continuation of national trends and that Greitens would close the gap.
“I think what you’re seeing in these poll results is what we’ve seen throughout the entire election cycle, which is you have an electorate which is very fluid and very dynamic right now, which is why you’ve seen wide swings in the polls both nationally and in the state,” he said. “These polls are going to tighten as the race gets closer, they always do. Missouri is a state that I think is going to be receptive to Eric’s message as that gets out there.”
Ashcroft has taken his statewide name ID to a similarly significant lead over Smith. His 48-38 lead is outside the margin of error. In the race, 10 percent of voters said they were undecided.
Richardson chalked Ashcroft’s lead up to more than his name ID. Election issues across the state have created a perfect storm for the scion, he said.
“I think the issues right now lends itself very well to Jay,” Richardson said. “He has built a campaign in the primary, and now in the general, built on bringing some integrity back to our elections. When you see the types of high-profile problems we’ve had out of the secretary of state’s office in managing elections over the last year, I don’t think it’s a surprise that Jay’s message is resonating.”
Justice said Smith has taken too long to get her campaign apparatus running and it will likely cost her in the end.
“Robin Smith, I think, made a mistake and waited too long to raise her money,” he said. “She needed to get the word out there earlier in the race to get the word out there who she was, even in the primary. She waited too long to raise her money and she’s up against the wall. I don’t think she’s got the time to make up the ground that she would need to be a factor in this race.”
Hawley leads Hensley 47-38, also outside the margin of error. However, 15 percent of voters said they were undecided. The poll was conducted before Hensley, a former prosecutor, received the Fraternal Order of Police endorsement.
Hawley’s another candidate who’s benefitted from the political climate, both nationally and in Missouri, Richardson said.
“I think Josh is in a very strong position. He ran a primary campaign that was based on some issues that we know resonate with Missouri voters and that’s opposition to Obamacare,” he said. “That’s been a theme in the last 2 election cycles and it’s been a theme in this one because people see it really stifling small businesses.”
“I think people want an attorney general that’s going to stand up and take on the federal government in some of these high-profile issues the state’s trying to deal with.”
Justice also chalked some of Hawley’s success up to national trends while admitting that Democrats have a capable underdog in Hensley.
“With the Trump effect on top of him being an outsider, these poll numbers don’t surprise me because of that general idea. He’s riding a wave,” he said. “She’s definitely one of the best candidates they could have put up for that position. She actually has a resume of being in a courtroom. But unfortunately, in the primary … the voters didn’t pay a lot of attention to that.”
The poll was conducted Sept. 19 through Sept. 20. 1,076 likely voters participated in the survey, which was weighted to match expected turnout demographics for the 2016 General Election. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus three. Remington Research Group conducted the poll on behalf of The Missouri Times.