Claire McCaskill was involved in incredibly close races for Governor in 2004 and Senator in 2006 from Missouri and it looks like she’s in for another one as she seeks reelection to the Senate in 2012. McCaskill leads Sarah Steelman by 1 point (45-44) in a hypothetical match up and trails Jim Talent and Peter Kinder each by 2 points in them (47-45 and 46-44 respectively,) all results well within the poll’s margin of error.
Voters in Missouri are pretty evenly divided in their feelings about McCaskill’s job performance during her first term. 43% approve of the job she’s doing, while 44% disapprove. There’s near complete polarization along party lines in her reviews- 77% of Democrats give her good marks, while 77% of Republicans think she’s doing a poor job. Independents lean slightly in her favor by a 43/40 margin.
Voters have mixed reactions to the potential GOP challengers tested in the poll as well. For Steelman and Kinder the main response is ambivalence. 59% of voters don’t know enough about Steelman to have formed an opinion and 54% say the same about Kinder. Those who do have feelings about them are slightly positive. Kinder’s favorability is 23/22 and Steelman’s is 22/19.
Perhaps more surprising is how many voters don’t have an opinion about Talent even after he ran statewide 3 times in 4 election cycles at one point in the last decade. 32% of voters now say they don’t know enough about Talent to rate him either positively or negatively. His reviews break down 36% favorable and 32% unfavorable with those who do have an opinion.
At this early stage it looks like the 2012 Missouri Senate race will be very much a base election. McCaskill gets only 6-8% among Republican voters in each of the match ups, and the Republicans only get 5-8% of Democrats in each of them. Independents split pretty evenly in all three scenarios with McCaskill leading Steelman by 3 with them, tying Talent, and trailing Kinder by 7.
McCaskill's numbers might be seen as relatively strong, given how poor Barack Obama's position in the state is. 52% of voters disapprove of his job performance to only 43% who approve. Republicans are more universal (90%) in their disapprove of him than Democrats are (86%) in their approval. He's in a weaker place than McCaskill with independents as well- 52% disapprove of him to only 39% approving.
All in all these numbers should be no surprise- with this year as a notable exception Missouri tends to have some of the closest elections in the country and it doesn't look like this one will be any different.
Full results here