Call it the Palin effect, but Republican John McCain has moved ahead of Democrat Barack Obama in Missouri.
A public opinion poll conducted for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and KMOV TV shows a surge for Republican John McCain over Democrat Barack Obama in Missouri, primarily due to McCain’s choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. The Research 2000 poll has McCain up 49% to 45%, a turn-around from July when McCain trailed 48-43. Post-Dispatch political reporter Jo Mannies says more important than the numbers is the enthusiasm of Republicans for McCain.
Mannies says she had heard from several Republicans that they were less than enthusiastic about McCain as their presidential candidate. That changed with the selection of Palin. The Research 2000 poll in July indicated the 81% of the state’s Republicans were behind McCain. The latest tally increases that to 88%. Independents have now shifted to McCain over Obama, apparently because of Palin.
Palin has caused women in the state to take a second look at McCain. It appears the addition of Palin to the ticket dramatically reduced what had been a double-digit lead for Obama among Missouri women to only a narrow lead.
Palin’s impact might even be helping Republican gubernatorial candidate Kenny Hulshof who has narrowed the gap with Democrat Jay Nixon. Mannies says it appears a trickle-down effect has narrowed the governor’s race, easing the tension among Republicans that grew out of the heated primary Hulshof won over Sarah Steelman. Still, Nixon holds a seven-point lead over Hulshof.
Voters seem fixated on the presidential and gubernatorial races, with little enthusiasm for down-ballot races such as for Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer and Attorney General. That might change once those candidates begin spending more campaign dollars on advertising.
The economy remains the number one issue among Missouri voters. Obama gets higher marks from Missouri voters than McCain on economic matters and health care. McCain remains extremely strong on military issues and the fight against terrorism, so strong that it offsets his weakness on economic issues. McCain has a commanding lead in rural Missouri. Obama owns the two major cities of St. Louis and Kansas City. The battle between the two is for the elusive suburban voter who likely will decide November 4th who will take the state.
The bright spot for Obama might be the bleak week the financial sector had. The turbulence in the financial markets that shook Wall Street began to shake out during the three days of polling. The events in Washington and Wall Street could cause a shift back to Obama.