The political landscape in Missouri is in stasis. Last week, we found Claire McCaskill at about the same fifty-fifty standing as in our previous poll in March. Now, in the state that featured the closest presidential contest in 2008, with John McCain winning in a photo finish, President Obama is at almost exactly the same position against his potential 2012 opponents as two months ago--slightly up on a few and slightly behind the two leading contenders.
43% approve and 53% disapprove of the president’s job performance, almost indentical to March’s 43-52 split.
As such, he trails Mike Huckabee, 44-49, and Mitt Romney, 43-45--mirrors of his 43-49 and 43-44 deficits two months ago. Obama leads Newt Gingrich, 46-44; the two were tied at 44% previously. He also matches his lead over Sarah Palin, 48-43, and bests Donald Trump, tested for the first time, 46-41. Obama is still losing double-digit percentages of Democrats, as against McCain, but he at least narrowly leads with independents, whom McCain barely won in 2008.
Despite his unpopularity, the president is seen in a better light than all the Republicans but Huckabee. Huckabee stands at 43-38, Romney at 31-45, Gingrich 29-50, Palin 33-56, and Trump 24-65.
Keeping the president further behind Huckabee and Romney than against McCain is that Missouri has yet to recover as much as other states from 2010’s hyper-Republican turnout. The poll’s respondents report having voted for McCain over Obama by five points, suggesting that Republican voters continue to be more engaged than Democrats, as was the case last year. The state seems to be trending redder, but if the electorate moves more toward 2008’s composition, the result next year could be just as close as it was last time.
Full results here.
Rumor has it Huckabee may announce that he is not running on his Fox News show tomorrow. That would be good news, at least for the time being, for the president. Huckabee gives him more trouble than the others in the South, in Appalachia, and up and down the Mississippi--including in states where the president remains strong (like North Carolina and Virginia) and states where he has declined since 2008 (like Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Missouri). The GOP almost certainly needs to return to Southern dominance and dip into either the West or Midwest--or both--to win the White House next year, and it remains to be seen whether another candidate can establish the rapport with these voters that Huckabee has.
Romney is not a much weaker alternative in these states, and he does put Obama more on the defensive in the Northeast and Southwest, particularly Nevada and New Hampshire, than does Huckabee. But Huckabee would certainly be leaving both a good shot at the nomination and a decent shot at Obama on the table by keeping his hat out of the ring.