Missouri incumbent U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill has a slight edge over Republican challenger Josh Hawley in a recent poll.

CNN has released results of its survey of battleground states Nevada and Missouri.  In the Show-Me State, McCaskill leads Hawley 47%-to-44% in a poll conducted between last Tuesday and Saturday.

McCaskill has small edge over Hawley in newest polling for Missouri Senate race

The numbers reflect Missouri voters’ thoughts while the drama over the still undecided confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh are unfolding.  Last Friday, a vote on the confirmation was delayed for a week, so the FBI can investigate sexual misconduct charges against Kavanaugh.

The survey includes Libertarian Party candidate Japheth Campbell and Green Party candidate Jo Crain but does not include independent Craig O’Dear.

The three-point edge for McCaskill is in contrast to two polls over the last month from CBS and NBC in which she and Hawley were in an outright tie.  The CNN survey shows both McCaskill and Hawley have small positive favorability ratings among likely voters.  But in what could be the wild card in the race, 19% of likely voters still haven’t formed an opinion about Hawley.

Missouri women favor McCaskill by 14% while men are behind Hawley by a 13% margin.

Healthcare, at 31%, is the top issue for Show-Me State voters when deciding how to vote for the U.S. Senate race, followed by the economy, 21%, immigration, 12% and gun policy at 10%.

McCaskill and Hawley have been locked in an especially charged exchange over health care.  McCaskill has made coverage of pre-existing conditions a cornerstone of her campaign and has harshly criticized Hawley, the state’s attorney general, for joining a lawsuit led by Texas to overturn the Affordable Care Act.

Doing away with the health care law would also scrap the provision to cover pre-existing conditions, although Hawley says he would seek to keep the coverage intact.

At one point, Hawley tried to gain leverage in the race by pressuring McCaskill to support Kavanaugh’s confirmation for the Supreme Court.  Shortly after the sexual assault allegations came out against the nominee last month, McCaskill announced she would vote against him, not over the accusations, but because of his court decisions and opinions in favor of loose restrictions on money in politics.

More recently, Hawley has followed Congressional Republicans in calling for an investigation into the top Senate Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Diane Feinstein and her staff, who first had knowledge of the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh from research professor Christine Blasey Ford.  Feinstein has denied leaking the accusation at the last minute before Kavanaugh’s confirmation proceedings.  McCaskill has declined to support Hawley’s call for an investigation into Feinstein.

If Independents are to play a role in Missouri’s U.S. Senate race, McCaskill has the edge according to the CNN poll.  She leads Hawley among Independents 50%-to-38%.

Missouri voters also narrowly approve of Donald Trump’s handling of his job as President, 48%-45%, although there’s a sharp divide among men and women.  Men approve of the President’s performance 55%-to-37% while women disapprove 40%-to-53%.

The CNN Poll in Missouri included a sample of 1,003 adults with a margin of sampling error of plus-or-minus 3.7 percentage points.  A subset of 906 registered voters carried a 3.9% margin of error while 756 likely voters carried a plus-or minus of 4.3 percentage points.

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