ST. LOUIS – Public Policy Polling (PPP), one of the largest and most influential polling companies in the United States, had good news for both Republicans and Democrats at a reception in St. Louis Friday morning.
In a new statewide poll, PPP Director Tom Jensen announced the organization found that the Missouri governor’s race was a close race between the four candidates, but former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens had a narrow lead. Greitens sat at 24 percent, while former House Speaker Catherine Hanaway sits just two points behind him in second place, a performance much better than what Remington’s polling has showed. Businessman John Brunner and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder had 16 and 15 percent, respectively with 23 percent of voters undecided.
“It really shows the governor’s race is really totally up for grabs,” Jensen said. “To have all four candidates within nine points of each other and still have almost a quarter of voters undecided speaks to a pretty wide open race.”
Jensen said the company was not able to accurately look at the general governor race where Attorney General Chris Koster is likely to be the Democratic nominee because they did not know who the Republican nominee would be.
In the race for U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt’s seat, the result was just as close between Blunt and Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, with Blunt only having a three-point lead (41 percent to 38 percent). Jensen says the reasons for that are likely twofold. First, 42 percent of respondents disapproved of the job Blunt was doing including roughly a quarter of people who identify as conservative. Second, Blunt has differed from the electorate on many topical issues, like mandating that those on the terrorist watch list be restricted from purchasing guns, universal background checks on those purchasing firearms and holding hearings on President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court. The majority of Missourians are in favor of those things, while Blunt opposes them.
“It definitely gives Kander a lot to work with,” Jensen said. “You have a situation with an incumbent who’s not that popular and Kander has really good issues where he can sort of draw a contrast on and show he’s more where voters are on some of these big things that we’ve been talking about lately.”
PPP also found that real estate mogul Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president has maintained the 10-point lead that Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won Missouri by in 2012. Trump leads former Secretary of State and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton 46 percent to 36 percent, although both candidates are wildly unpopular.
However, Clinton has the lead in most other swing states, like Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Clinton has suffered in recent weeks from the results of an FBI investigation into her private email server that did not result in a recommendation for criminal action but nonetheless revealed negligence of State Department materials during her time in the Obama administration.
The polling company also polled some less than serious candidates against Clinton and Trump. Deez Nuts, who gained popularity during the Iowa caucuses for polling well against some of the Republican candidates, had eight percent of the vote, when polled against just Trump and Clinton, and “a meteor crashing into the Earth destroying all life on the planet” polled at a relatively high 12 percent.
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, has seven percent in Missouri.
While the reception hosted by left-leaning consulting group GPS Impact was a separate event from the progressive Netroots Nation convention taking place at the America’s Center, Democrats and liberals mostly attended the event, including Missouri Democratic Party Chairman and GPS Impact partner Roy Temple. He believes the results show promise for the party heading into November.
“The issue terrain is far more favorable to Democratic and progressive viewpoints than I think the average political person might think,” he said. “When you talk about statewide elections in Missouri, Democrats when they field strong candidates and run good campaigns, have a really good chance of winning those races.”
The poll was the first conducted by Public Policy Polling in the state since August of last year. The company is thought to have a slightly liberal “house bias.” The poll consisted of 959 registered voters polled on July 11 and 12. The margin of error is +/-3.2%.
UPDATE – July 15, 1:53 p.m.: An earlier version of this story reported that Hanaway was in third place in the Republican primary for governor. She is in second place.