President Barack Obama and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill are locked in tough campaigns against Republican challengers in Missouri.
According to a poll conducted by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and KMOV, the two Democratic incumbents have much higher unfavorables among the electorate than the GOP standardbearers.
Obama had a 34 percent favorable rating, a 51 percent unfavorable and 15 percent neutral response from registered voters who responded to the survey July 23-25. Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney had 35 percent favorables and 27 percent unfavorable, with 33 percent neutral.
In another part of the poll, respondents gave Romney a 51-42 edge over Obama if the election were held that day — with only 5 percent undecided and 2 percent selecting Libertarian Gary Johnson.
It was no surprise that Obama is most popular in the St. Louis and Kansas City metropolitan areas, which generally have much larger Democratic majorities than other parts of the state. What is surprising is that Obama’s lead is not very big.
In St. Louis, Obama is favored 53-41 over Romney. In Kansas City, Obama has a 49-43 edge. Outside of those areas, in northern, central, southeastern and southwestern parts of the state, Obama has between 28 and 30 percent support and Romney has between 62 and 64 percent support.
According to the Post-Dispatch poll, McCaskill would have lost to Republican John Brunner 41-52, if the election had been held that day. Against Republican Sarah Steelman, McCaskill would have fallen 49-41. And dark horse GOP candidate Todd Akin would have beat McCaskill 49-44.
The poll had better news for Gov. Jay Nixon. The first-term Democrat would have beaten Republican Dave Spence 48-39 if the election had been held that day. Independent voters favored Nixon 52-31 and women favored him 52-33. Spence had a 46-44 edge among men.
Polls don’t tell the whole story, but they shed some light on the mood of Missouri as the August primary approaches and the November election sprints begin.