Missouri voters continue to be unhappy with Barack Obama and his health care plan and that's helped Roy Blunt to take the lead in the US Senate race.
Blunt is up 45-41 on Robin Carnahan, but that result probably has more to do with how the state feels about Barack Obama than it does about the candidates themselves. Voters who approve of Obama are voting for Carnahan by an 84-6 margin. Voters who disapprove of Obama are voting for Blunt 80-6. The problem for Carnahan is that a 52% majority of voters in the state fall in the disapprove column when it comes to the President compared to only 43% who think he's doing a good job.
Blunt's advantage comes thanks to a 47-35 lead with independents and also because Republicans are remarkably unified. He leads Carnahan 84-1 with his party's voters. The controversy over health care is helping to keep GOP voters on the same page, as they oppose the plan signed into law last week by a 93-1 margin. Overall 54% of voters in the state are against it with 37% in support, and 51% think Republicans should work to repeal it compared to 42% who believe the party should let it stand.
There are some warning signs for Blunt in the poll though. Only 25% of voters say they have a favorable opinion of him to 41% who view him unfavorably. Carnahan isn't all that popular either with 38% holding a positive opinion of her to 43% whose opinion is negative, but those personal favorability numbers are a lot better than Blunt's. Beyond that 55% of voters trust Jefferson City politicians most to deal with Missouri's problems compared to only 13% who pick Washington DC. Drawing a contrast between herself as someone who's worked hard in the state and Blunt as a Washington insider has the potential to pay dividends for Carnahan further down the road.
There are two ways to see Carnahan coming out on top in this race. If Obama's approval gets even just to the point where the state is equally divided in its feelings about him Carnahan will probably come out on top because of her greater personal popularity and the anti-Washington sentiments of the electorate right now. If Obama's numbers don't get any better Carnahan's going to have to try to shift the election from a referendum on the President to a referendum on Roy Blunt and his record in Washington.
This election's a great example of how important timing is in politics. 2006 or 2008 and Carnahan destroys Blunt. But in 2010 it's not going to be an easy road.
Full results here