Graves Rises to Top of Potential GOP Challengers to McCaskill, Poll Shows
A new poll from SurveyUSA predicts a statistical tie in a hypothetical head-to-head matchup between Republican Rep. Sam Graves and Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill for her seat in Missouri.
The poll showed McCaskill with 48 percent to Graves’ 44 percent if the 2012 general election were held now, with a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points. Missouri-based Republican consultants Axiom Strategies commissioned the poll, which surveyed 700 adults in the state from Jan. 21 to Monday.
The firm did not release polling numbers for contests pitting other Republicans against McCaskill or for GOP primary challenges to Graves. However, Axiom Strategies principal Jeff Roe told Roll Call that Graves tested best against McCaskill because he cut into her Kansas City base.
If Graves does decide to run for the Senate, he may have a fight for the Republican nomination. Former Treasurer Sarah Steelman is already in the race, and other Republicans have begun considering candidacies now that former Sen. Jim Talent has decided not to run.
That list includes Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, former Missouri GOP Chairwoman Ann Wagner and former Congressional candidate Ed Martin.
Roe, an experienced Missouri operative who ran Steelman’s gubernatorial campaign in 2008, worked as Graves’ chief of staff and said he would work for the Congressman again if he decides to run for the Senate.
Roe said the potential Republican candidates are having conversations among themselves about who should run.
“Everybody’s trying to determine who is the best person to take on Claire, and outside of that messaging I think it’s important to stay on target of who’s the opponent,” he said.
Missouri will lose one House seat because of reapportionment before the 2012 elections, so it makes sense that House Republicans from Missouri would take a look at the Senate race. However, the offices of Republican Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer and Todd Akin told Roll Call that the Congressmen are not interested in running for the Senate.
Roll Call Politics rates the Missouri Senate race a Tossup.