Democrat Robin Carnahan would be the early favorite for Missouri's open Senate seat if she decides to enter the field, Public Policy Polling's newest survey finds.
Carnahan leads three potential Republican opponents in hypothetical contests. She has a 45-44 edge over Congressman Roy Blunt, a 47-43 lead over former Senator Jim Talent, and a 47-36 advantage over former Treasurer Sarah Steelman.
Carnahan is probably further ahead of her opponents than the numbers might indicate. Her lead among African Americans over Blunt and Talent is only 54-30. Early polling tends to underestimate black support for Democratic candidates. For instance when PPP first surveyed the Gubernatorial race in Missouri, back in July, Jay Nixon led Kenny Hulshof only 52-27 among black voters. According to the exit poll, Nixon ended up taking 90% of it to Hulshof's 7. It seems reasonable to think that Carnahan will end up performing similarly with African American voters, which means she's running pretty close to 50%.
A key advantage for Carnahan is her strong standing among white voters. Carnahan trails Blunt by only a single point with whites, is up two among them against Talent, and has a six point lead against Steelman with that demographic. Any Missouri Democrat who can run roughly even with white voters will coast to an easy victory when the party's overwhelming advantage with black voters is factored in.
Carnahan's favorability is 45/36, Talent's is 45/39, Blunt's is 40/43, and the less well known Steelman's is 36/29. It may seem curious that Blunt has a net negative reaction from Missouri voters, yet polls closer to Carnahan than Talent. The key is the power of being a Congressman. Almost 25% of Democrats in SW Missouri, Blunt's district, say they would support him in an election against Carnahan. While Talent has a roughly equal number of Democrats who view him favorably statewide, most of them still say they would vote for Carnahan if she was his opponent. The Democrats who like Blunt, on the other hand, would actually vote for him.
Full results here