When PPP polled the Missouri Senate race in January Robin Carnahan led by one point. Fast forward ten months and nothing has changed. Carnahan leads Roy Blunt 43-42.
It's a good sign for Carnahan that her status hasn't worsened as things have gone sour in general for the Democratic Party over the course of 2009. That's a product of Carnahan and Blunt being more well known than your typical open seat candidates, particularly because of their family names, and probably also due to Blunt's being symbolic of a Congress that voters don't care for. You're definitely better off being a Jefferson City politician in 2010 than a Washington one.
Voters in the state view Carnahan a good deal more favorably than Blunt. 40% have a positive opinion of her to 36% unfavorable, for a +4 net rating. Only 30% of voters see Blunt favorably with 38% looking at him negatively, for a -8 net rating.
In a normal election year Carnahan would probably cruise to election given that divergence in the candidates' popularity. But 2010 is shaping up to be good for Republicans and Carnahan can't completely avoid that. 52% of voters in the state disapprove of the job Barack Obama is doing with only 43% giving him good marks. Also 58% of voters have an unfavorable opinion of the Democrats in Congress with only 27% seeing them positively. Those two findings are a good look into why Carnahan doesn't have a wider lead.
Congressional Republicans are actually even more unpopular than Congressional Democrats in the state- 62% view them unfavorably. But among voters with a dim view of both parties- which accounts for 27% of the state- Blunt leads 59-22. Generally speaking when voters don't care for either party they'll vote for the one that's out of power because of the mentality that there's at least a prospect for things to change.
State Senator Chuck Purgason is also running and trails Blunt 53-16 in the primary. Blunt is at no real risk of not winning the nomination, but the numbers do indicate he still has some work to do ingratiating himself with Republican voters. In a general election contest that will probably never happen Carnahan leads Purgason 42-35.
There's no doubt this is going to be one of the top races in the country next year. Democrats will be playing a lot of defense nationally in 2010 but Carnahan is a superior candidate to Blunt and that makes this one of the best opportunities for the party to pick up something it doesn't currently hold. Should be an interesting one to watch.
Full results here