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SLU/YouGov Poll: Missourians Pessimistic About State, Economy, Congress and Race Relations in Their Community

07/15/2020Media Inquiries

Maggie Rotermund
Senior Media Relations Specialist

Reserved for members of the media.


A new Saint Louis University/YouGov Poll finds that Missouri voters have negative views about the direction of the state, country and key Missouri political figures.

A majority of likely voters do not agree that Missouri or the United States is on the right track, and when asked about the performance statewide political figures, Sen. Josh Hawley receives higher marks than Gov. Mike Parson and Sen. Roy Blunt, but none of the lawmakers’ approval ratings exceed 50%.

Most Missouri voters rated race relations in their community as only “Fair” or “Poor.” State infrastructure also received fair or poor ratings. Focusing on recent political issues facing the state, voters opposed prohibiting abortion after 8 weeks of pregnancy, but most Democrats, Republicans and Independents supported background checks for all firearm sales in the state of Missouri.

Direction of the Country, State and Economy

Missourians do not see the country or the state as being on the right track. Only 33% of Missouri voters agreed with the statement that “The United States is on the right track and headed in a good direction.” Similarly, only 38% of Missouri voters thought the state of Missouri was on the right track. 

“Despite voters not thinking the United States and Missouri are headed in the right direction, there are clear differences between Republican and Democratic voters,” said SLU/YouGov poll director Steven Rogers, Ph.D. “For instance, 65% of Republican voters think Missouri is on the right track but only 9% of Democratic voters have similar attitudes.”

Forty-three percent of likely voters stated the economy was their top priority for Missouri state government, but they are pessimistic about the state of Missouri’s economy. Only 3.5% of Missouri voters ranked the state’s economy as excellent, with 25% saying good, 40.5% fair, 27.5% poor with 3% not sure. When focusing on the national economy, only 4% ranked the U.S. economy as excellent, 23% good, 34% fair and 37% poor. Only 2% were not sure.

“Given the impact of Covid-19 on our economies, it was expected to see respondents in our poll rank the U.S. and Missouri economies negatively,” said Kenneth Warren, Ph.D., associate director of the SLU/YouGov Poll.

Approval of Federal Government

Overall, Missouri voters are almost equally divided on Trump’s job performance with 19% approving and 32% strongly approving, but with 6% disapproving and 43% strongly disapproving. Trump is most popular among voters who do not have a college degree or who make less than $50,000 a year. Reflecting the current polarized times, 92.5% of Republicans approve of the President’s performance, but fewer than 3% of Democrats have a favorable impression of the President.

“We found that Trump would carry Missouri by 7% if the election were held today, so evidently a small percentage of voters who disapprove of Trump’s job performance would vote for him anyway,” Warren said.

Missouri voters have much more negative views about Congress, especially compared to the nation. Only 15% of likely Missouri voters approved of the performance of the U.S. Congress while 75% disapproved. Meanwhile, the most recent national Economist/YouGov poll (July 5-7) indicates that 18% of voters nationwide approve of the performance of Congress and only 50% disapprove.

“Missouri voters have negative opinions about Congress, but they have more favorable opinions of their U.S. Senators,” Rogers said.

Forty-eight percent of Missouri voters approved of Sen. Hawley’s performance and only 40.3% of voters disapproved, making him the most popular statewide political figure considered in the SLU/YouGov Poll. 

Only 38% of voters approved of Sen. Blunt’s performance. Forty-nine percent of likely Missouri voters disapproved, and 13% were not sure. While only 21.3% of Republicans disapprove of Blunt’s performance, 75.9% and 51.7% of Democratic and Independent voters respectively disapprove of Sen. Blunt’s performance. Blunt is most popular with voters over the age of 45 and among those without a college degree.

Approval of State Government

The SLU/YouGov poll showed that voters were split on Gov. Parson’s job performance with 32.9% approving and 14.4% strongly approving and with 21.3% disapproving and 22.3% strongly disapproving. Seventy-nine percent of Republicans approved of the Governor’s performance, but only 14% of Democrats and 47.2% of Independents approved of Parson’s performance as governor.

“Our SLU/YouGov Poll found that slightly fewer voters would vote for Parson, 41%, than approve of his performance, 47%, meaning that his approval ratings are somewhat ‘soft,’” said Warren.

Missouri voters have a more favorable impression of their state legislature than of the U.S. Congress. Forty percent of likely voters approve of the job the Missouri legislature is doing, with 3% strongly approving.

Twenty-three percent of those polled disapproved, with another 21.5% strongly disapproving. Twelve percent of likely voters indicated they were not sure. Overall, more disapproved of the Missouri legislature’s performance, 44.5% than approved, 43%.

Race Relations and Law Enforcement

Reflective of the recent increase in civil rights protests, the SLU/YouGov poll found a majority of likely Missouri voters had negative views about race relations in their communities. Over 50% of voters rated race relations in their communities as either “Fair” or “Poor.” Forty-five percent of voters rated race relations as “Good” or “Excellent.”

Missouri voters, meanwhile, have more positive views about law enforcement in their communities. Twenty-six percent rated law enforcement in their communities as “Excellent,” and 36.6% rated law enforcement as “Good.” Respondents gave mixed reviews to the crime problem in their community with 9% saying excellent, 33% good, 30% fair, 23% poor, with 4% not sure.

One key aspect of the SLU/YouGov poll is that it can help researchers better understand what shapes public opinion.

“Voters’ opinions about race relations appear to change when put into different contexts,” said Rogers. “Half of survey respondents were asked to rate race relations at the same time as they rated law enforcement in their community. The other half of respondents rated race relations while rating crime in their community. When asked together with law enforcement, 47.3% of voters rated race relations as “Good” or “Excellent,” but this figure drops to 42.3% among voters who rated both race relations and crime in their communities.”

Abortion and Guns

“Recent controversies regarding gun rights and closure of abortion clinics in Missouri have received national attention,” Rogers said. “The Missouri state legislature passed a ban on abortions after 8 weeks of pregnancy, which was later overturned by the courts.”

Most Missouri voters, however, appear to be opposed to such a ban. Only 45% of likely Missouri voters indicated on the SLU/YouGov poll that they agreed with the statement “Missouri state government should prohibit abortions after 8 weeks of pregnancy.” Forty-nine percent of men agreed with this statement but only 42% of women agreed.

Missouri voters are also supportive of increased gun control in the state. Sixty-five percent of Missouri voters agreed with the statement that “Missouri should require background checks for all firearm sales.” 

“Interestingly, support for background checks crosses party lines,” Rogers said. 

Eighty-three percent of Democratic voters, 57% of Republican, and 61% of independents agreed that background checks should be required for all firearm sales.


YouGov interviewed 900 likely Missouri voters between June 23, 2020 and July 1, 2020. The YouGov panel, a proprietary opt-in survey panel, is comprised of 1.2 million U.S. residents who have agreed to participate in YouGov Web surveys. Using their gender, age, race, and education, YouGov weighted the set of survey respondents to known characteristics of registered voters of Missouri voters from the 2018 Current Population survey. The margin of error for the weighted data is 3.95%. Support for the SLU/YouGov Poll comes from the Saint Louis University Research Institute.

Survey Results

About YouGov

Saint Louis University has partnered with YouGov to conduct its annual survey of Missourians. YouGov conducts surveys for multiple academic institutions and is the primary, trusted survey firm for media organizations, including CBS News and The Economist. An independent Pew Research Center study of online survey firms in 2016 further concluded YouGov “consistently outperforms competitors.”

About Saint Louis University

Founded in 1818, Saint Louis University is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious Catholic institutions. Rooted in Jesuit values and its pioneering history as the first university west of the Mississippi River, SLU offers nearly 13,000 students a rigorous, transformative education of the whole person. At the core of the University’s diverse community of scholars is SLU’s service-focused mission, which challenges and prepares students to make the world a better, more just place.