Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, a two-term incumbent, tops her Republican challenger Josh Hawley by a narrow 44-41 percent margin, according to a Fox News poll of Missouri likely voters. Her three-point edge is within the poll’s margin of sampling error. Third-party candidates get six percent.
While women back McCaskill by nine, the candidates are tied among white women. Men go for Hawley by four points. Suburban women support McCaskill by 14 points, while white evangelical Christians prefer Hawley by 34.
McCaskill gets stronger support among Democrats, 90 percent, than Hawley captures among Republicans (79 percent). Missouri voters are more likely to identify as Republican than Democrat by seven points.
“Assuming partisans come home by Election Day, as is typical, Hawley will benefit,” says Democratic pollster Chris Anderson, who conducts the Fox News poll with Republican counterpart Daron Shaw.
“But if Republicans splinter to independent and Libertarian candidates as they are showing signs of now, that could be the difference in the race.”
Seventy-nine percent of McCaskill’s backers are certain they will vote for her -- far more than the 68 percent of Hawley’s supporters who are sure.
The race could change. Eight percent of Missouri likely voters are undecided. Plus, 27 percent of those currently backing a candidate say they could change their mind before November.
In a hypothetical head-to-head matchup, McCaskill and Hawley tie at 45 percent each.
Health care (29 percent) and the economy (26 percent) are the top concerns in Missouri. Health care voters back McCaskill by 34 points, while economy voters prefer Hawley by just 3 points.
“Missouri isn’t the only place where health care is a major issue, and it is helping the Democrats so far,” says Shaw.
“If McCaskill survives this race, it will likely be because Missouri Democrats are more fired up and united about health care than Republicans are about the economy.”
Show-Me State voters are divided as well on President Trump, who carried Missouri by 19 points two years ago. Today, they split (49 percent approve versus 48 percent disapprove) on his job performance.
Among Trump approvers, 75 percent back Hawley. A Trump trip to Missouri for Hawley scheduled for Thursday was canceled due to Hurricane Florence.
Slightly more voters say their Senate vote will be about opposing the president (33 percent) than supporting him (29 percent).
Meanwhile, by a 7-point margin, more think the president’s trade policies are hurting (45 percent) rather than helping (38 percent) the U.S. economy.
From a personal perspective, 47 percent say their family's financial situation is about the same as it was two years ago, and 22 percent say it's worse. Thirty percent say they are doing better.
McCaskill hasn’t said how she’ll vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, but a “no” vote could hurt her with Missouri voters. Among the one quarter of voters who say they might still change their mind in the Senate race, 32 percent say they would be less likely to support McCaskill if she opposes Kavanaugh. That’s twice the number who would be more likely to support her (15 percent).
At a glance, McCaskill and Hawley’s favorable ratings look about the same (48 and 47 percent respectively). However, her “strongly” unfavorable (35 percent) is eight points higher than his (27 percent).
The Fox News Poll is conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R). The poll was conducted September 8-11, 2018 by telephone (landline and cellphone) with live interviewers among 675 Missouri likely voters and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Registered voters were randomly selected from a statewide voter file, and respondents answered screening questions about their likelihood to vote in the November elections.