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Hawley Circulates Polling Memo Showing Tight Missouri Senate Race

Missouri attorney general is challenging Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill

McCaskill is one of the most vulnerable Senate incumbents. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
McCaskill is one of the most vulnerable Senate incumbents. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley’s campaign circulated a memo Monday morning showing he is locked in a tight race with Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, and amid concerns from some Republicans that Hawley needs to step up his campaign.

The memo, first reported by the Washington Examiner and later shared by Hawley’s campaign, detailed the results from a poll conducted last week. Hawley had support from 47 percent of respondents, while McCaskill had garnered 46 percent, with 7 percent undecided. The poll had a 4 point margin of error.

“There is no love for Senator McCaskill among a majority of Missouri voters and it is clear that she remains one of the most vulnerable incumbents of 2018,” wrote Wes Anderson of On Message Inc., which conducted the poll.

Recent scandals surrounding GOP Gov. Eric Greitens have not affected Hawley, Anderson said. For the first time, the campaign’s polling showed a majority of those surveyed, 51 percent, had an unfavorable view of Greitens, who is facing criminal charges for invasion of privacy, Anderson said. The governor is accused of taking a photo of a woman with whom he had an affair and threatening to use it as blackmail.

Hawley, as the state’s attorney general, announced earlier this month that Greitens is also facing allegations that the governor illegally obtained a charity donor list and used it for political purposes. Both Hawley and McCaskill have called on Greitens to resign.

“Although Governor Greitens has taken a hit, this has not impacted the Republican brand in the state as Josh Hawley and President Trump remain in an excellent position heading into the summer,” Anderson wrote. Trump’s job approval in the poll was 53 percent, with 45 percent disapproving.

The On Message poll surveyed 600 likely voters via live telephone interviews from April 16 to April 18.

Emerson College also released a poll on Monday showing a tight Senate race in Missouri. Both McCaskill and Hawley received 45 percent with 11 percent of those surveyed undecided. The poll was conducted from April 26 through April 29, surveying 600 likely voters through landline Interactive Voice Response system and online.

The Emerson College poll also showed a Hawley ahead in the GOP primary, with 37 percent of GOP respondents backing him. Eight percent backed former Libertarian presidential candidate Austin Petersen, while 6 percent backed Courtland Sykes, who garnered national media attention for a lengthy statement calling feminists “she-devils.” Forty-five percent of the 283 likely GOP primary voters surveyed were undecided in the Republican primary, which is Aug. 7. 

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the Missouri Senate race Toss-Up.  

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