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« Strategy Memo: War, Peace And Polls | Blog Home Page | All Tied Up In WA »

Nixon Way Ahead

Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon continues to run well ahead of either of his potential Republican challengers, a new poll shows. The Democrat, who initially planned to run against well-funded incumbent Matt Blunt, now finds himself running alone as his GOP opponents slug it out in an increasingly bitter primary, in one of the best pickup opportunities for either party in governors' races this year.

The poll, conducted by Research 2000 on behalf of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and KMOV-TV, surveyed 800 likely voters between 7/7-10 for a margin of error of +/- 3.5%. The poll included a subsample of 500 likely Republican primary voters for a margin of error of +/- 4.4%. Nixon, Rep. Kenny Hulshof, State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, teacher Scott Long and frequent candidate Jen Sievers were tested.

Primary Election Matchup
(All / Men / Wom)
Hulshof..............32 / 26 / 27
Steelman............24 / 20 / 29
Long...................12 / 15 / 8
Sievers.................5 / 4 / 6

General Election Matchups
(All / Dem / GOP / Ind / Men / Wom)
Nixon.................52 / 83 / 14 / 56 / 49 / 55
Hulshof..............35 / 7 / 69 / 31 / 39 / 31

Nixon.................53 / 85 / 14 / 58 / 50 / 56
Steelman............34 / 6 / 68 / 30 / 38 / 30

With few governors' races actually on the table this year, Missouri looks like Democrats' best, and probably only, shot at taking back a GOP-held governor's mansion. Nixon's favorables are solid, with 56% saying they have a favorable impression and just 38% saying they have an unfavorable impression, and his GOP rivals' numbers aren't that good (Hulshof: 43% favorable, 33% unfavorable. Steelman: 39% favorable, 32% unfavorable.).

Too, the eventual Republican nominee will have to face a scenario much like John McCain now faces on a national level: Matt Blunt is simply not a popular guy. Just 42% of Show Me Staters say they see the one-term wunderkind favorably, while 54% view him unfavorably. It is little wonder, faced with a deep-pocketed and popular opponent, that Blunt threw in the towel.

Missouri is going to be a swing state in the presidential election in November, but Nixon doesn't have to be worried about being associated with any sort of "liberal" tag Barack Obama brings along with him. Nixon was one of the first candidates or incumbents we saw who offered a statement supporting the Supreme Court's ruling on the Second Amendment, and his tough-on-crime image always serves candidates well.

To make this a contest again, Republicans are going to have to come up with a new angle of attack on Nixon or some new approach to appealing to Missouri voters that will probably involve distance from Blunt. Until they come up with that attack or approach, the race looks like Nixon's to lose.