Today, President Trump is campaigning in Missouri on behalf of Republican attorney general Josh Hawley, who is running against two-term Democratic senator Claire McCaskill. Earlier this week, polling from the Trafalgar Group showed Hawley leading McCaskill by three percentage points.
That’s inside the poll’s margin of error, but it’s the first poll since early July that puts the race at something other than a tie. (Remington Research showed Hawley with a two-point lead in that survey from more than two months ago.)
Between July and today, four separate polls have shown the Missouri Senate race in a dead-heat, including a recent CBS News/YouGov poll that put both McCaskill and Hawley at 45 percent support among likely voters, with 6 percent undecided.
This week’s Trafalgar poll, though, shows Hawley leading the Democratic senator 47 to 44 percent, with 8 percent of likely voters undecided. Interestingly, his three-point advantage lessened considerably when respondents were asked how they’d vote if McCaskill were to support the confirmation of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh — in that case, Hawley’s lead narrows to just half a percentage point. Voters indicated that, if McCaskill votes against Kavanaugh’s confirmation, they’d favor Hawley over their current senator 49 to 43 percent.
Those figures don’t bode well for the Democrat, who stated on Wednesday evening that she will vote against Kavanaugh if and when the Senate holds its vote on his nomination, a process that has been delayed by Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her 36 years ago. Kavanaugh has categorically denied it.
Just before announcing that she will not vote in favor of confirming Kavanaugh, McCaskill remarked at a campaign event in Missouri that she set would aside Ford’s allegation when making her decision about whether or not to support the nominee. That announcement was an odd move for the Democrat, who could easily have tried to use Ford’s allegation as cover for voting against Kavanaugh — a vote that her left-wing base surely expects. Citing the allegation could have been a tactic to try and appease Missouri’s Trump-favoring electorate, which seems to still want Kavanaugh confirmed.
As it is, McCaskill appears to be in a bit of trouble. With about six weeks to go until the election, Missouri is looking even more like one of the top few states where the GOP could pick up a seat in the Senate.