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Jim Talent Leads GOP Senate Field in New Missouri Poll

Just a couple weeks after the 2010 election, Republicans in Missouri prefer a rematch of former Republican Sen. Jim Talent against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in 2012, Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling found in a new poll.

Though Talent hasn’t announced that he will run again, 53 percent of Republicans chose him over former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman, who became the first Republican to officially join the race last week. Steelman got 17 percent in the poll, and another potential candidate, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, got 26 percent. The poll of 400 usual Republican primary voters was taken Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 and had a margin of error of 4.9 points.

The difference, however, may be Talent’s relatively high name recognition. A majority of those polled had no opinion of Steelman or Kinder. Talent, on the other hand, established his reputation by working his way up the political ladder in Missouri over a couple decades, starting as a state Representative in the mid-1980s and becoming a U.S. Representative in 1993. He lost a gubernatorial run in 2000 but narrowly won a special election for the Senate in 2002. McCaskill defeated him 50 percent to 47 percent in 2006.

A PPP poll of 515 Missouri voters over the same time frame found that regardless of who the Republican nominee is, the general election will be close. McCaskill led Steelman by just 1 point and trailed Talent and Kinder by 2 points and 1 point, respectively. That survey had a margin of error of 4.3 points.

The poll of Republicans also suggests Show-Me State Republicans prefer former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee as their presidential nominee in 2012. Huckabee led former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin 27 percent to 25 percent. Trailing behind them were former Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Other candidates registered only in the single digits.

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