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SLU/YouGov Poll: One Month Out from Election, Republicans Look to Maintain Hold on Statewide Offices

10/13/2020Media Inquiries

Maggie Rotermund
Senior Media Relations Specialist

Reserved for members of the media.


Only Half of Missourians Would Get COVID-19 Vaccine If Available Today

The October SLU/YouGov Poll interviewed 931 likely Missouri voters about the 2020 election and issues important to Missourians. The survey found that Republican candidates Donald Trump, Governor Mike Parson and Attorney General Eric Schmitt all hold at least a 6-point lead on their Democratic rivals, which is outside the poll’s 3.9% margin of error for the full sample.

Key 2020 Election Findings

Key Findings on Issues Important to Missourians

Trump Leads Biden but Support Falls After Presidential Debate

The latest SLU/YouGov Poll shows President Donald Trump maintaining his lead over former Vice-President Joe Biden, 52% to 43% with only 2% of voters still undecided. Fifty-three percent of voters approved of Trump’s performance as president. Overall, 22% of voters stated that the economy was the most important issue for them in the Presidential race, and 34% of voters indicated the U.S. economy was “Excellent” or “Good,”  while 64% rated the U.S. Economy as “Fair” or “Poor.”

Top issues for Republicans were the economy (34%) and law and order (28%). Twenty-six percent and 21% of Democrats respectively listed COVID-19 and health care as the issues most important to them in the presidential contest.

Trump’s 9-point lead in October is larger than the 7-point lead found by the SLU/YouGov Poll in June, but Trump’s lead may be declining. When examining the 439 voters who responded to the SLU/YouGov Poll prior to the first Presidential Debate on Sept. 29, Trump’s lead was 54% to 42% (margin of error 5.2%). When examining the 492 voters who answered the survey after the debate, Trump’s lead narrows to 49% to 45% (margin of error 5.9%).

Parson Increases Lead Over Galloway

Governor Parson is pulling away from State Auditor Nicole Galloway in the contest to be governor of Missouri. Parson leads Galloway 50% to 44%. Parson’s support largely comes from white, male and rural voters and voters who care most about the economy and law and order. Galloway, meanwhile, has more support in St. Louis and Kansas City, particularly with voters who care about health care and COVID-19.

In June, the SLU/YouGov poll found the Missouri Governor’s race to be in a “statistical dead heat.” Forty-one percent of likely voters supported Parson; 39% supported Galloway and 17% of Missouri voters were undecided. According to Steven Rogers, Ph.D., director of the SLU/YouGov poll, undecided voters fell to Parson by a 2:1 margin.

“We reinterviewed 530 of voters who answered our survey in June to see how or if their opinions changed,” Rogers said. “Ninety-three percent of Parson or Galloway supporters in June supported the same candidates in October. However, 55% of voters who were “Not sure” in June support Parson in October. Only 27% of the June “Not sure” voters support Galloway.”

Voters Support Amendment 1 and Oppose Amendment 3

Most Missouri voters support Amendment 1, which would set term limits on state executive offices like the governor and attorney general, 51% to 29% (margin of error of 5.8%). Missouri already has term limits for state legislative offices. According to Rogers, “more Democrats, Republicans, and Independents support the amendment than oppose, and the amendment has healthy backing across the state.” Rogers also noted that 20% of voters are “Not sure” where they stood on the Amendment.

“Even with these undecided voters, it would be surprising if the Amendment did not pass in November.”

There is more opposition to Constitutional Amendment 3, which has implications for 2020 redistricting. Amendment 3 would largely undo Constitutional Amendment 1 – sometimes known as the “Clean Missouri” Amendment, which passed in 2018 with 62% of the vote. Only 35% of Missouri voters support Amendment 3; 43% oppose it, and 23% are undecided (margin of error 5.3%). Democratic voters oppose the Amendment by a 2:1 margin, but more Republicans support than oppose the Amendment (43% to 34%).

In interest of disclosure, this Amendment 3 survey question mistakenly stated that lobbyist contributions would be limited to a maximum of $5 instead of $0. The SLU Poll team takes responsibility for and regrets this error.

Josh Hawley Missouri’s Most Popular Senator

Over 75% of Missourians disapprove of Congress’s performance (margin of error 5.2%), but Sen. Josh Hawley continues to be Missouri’s most popular senator. Forty-eight percent of Missouri voters approve of Hawley’s performance as Senator, while 41% disapprove. In June 2020, the comparable figures were 49% and 40%. Over 80% of Republican voters approve of Hawley’s performance, but only 7% of Democratic voters approve. Hawley’s performance is most approved by rural voters while St. Louis and Kansas City voters largely disapprove of Hawley’s performance.

Only 42% of Missouri voters meanwhile approve of Sen. Roy Blunt’s performance, and 46% disapprove. These statewide numbers are the worst of any Republican polled on by the survey. Forty-nine percent of voters approved of Governor Parson’s performance, and 53% approved of President Trump’s performance. 

“These ratings, while not encouraging for a Senator running for reelection in two years, are improvements for Blunt from our last poll,” Rogers said. “In June, the SLU/YouGov poll, found 38% of voters approved of Blunt’s performance and 48% disapproved.”

Approval of Local School District’s Handling of COVID-19 Drops

In both the June and October SLU/YouGov Polls, Missourians were asked whether they approved or disapproved of how their elected officials and local school districts handled the pandemic. Approval of President Trump and Governor Parson stayed relatively the same across the two surveys, but the approval of local school districts dropped by approximately 10%.

In June, 65% of voters approved how local school districts handled the pandemic, but 55% of voters approved in October (margin of error 5.8%).

“While a majority of voters still approve of their school district’s handling of the pandemic, this drop in approval likely reflects difficulties with some of the reopening plans in fall,” said Rogers. “The drop was slightly larger among parents with kids in school.”

The SLU/YouGov poll also asked parents of school-aged children for their opinions about schools re-opening in the fall, and 66% percent of respondents said they agree that schools in their communities should re-open face-to-face.

“Most of our state’s students returned to school with at least an in-person option, but parents seem to have wanted their kids back fully in-person. This decrease in support for school districts likely reflects the competing preferences for learning this fall,” added Evan Rhinesmith, Ph.D., associate director of the SLU/YouGov Poll.

Partisan Divides over the Economy, Direction of the Country and State, and Masks 

Missourians’ views of the national and state economies have improved since the June SLU/YouGov Poll. In June, approximately 27% of voters rated the U.S. or Missouri economy as “Excellent” or “Good.” In October, at least 34% of voters rated the US or Missouri economy this way.

Republicans and Democrats, however, view the economy quite differently. Fifty-five percent of Republicans rate the Missouri economy as “Excellent” or “Good” but only 6% of Democrats do, which is lower than Democrats’ opinions in June. Such views of the economy likely contribute to the 72% of Republicans polled who agree that Missouri is on the right track and heading a good direction. Only 4.7% of Democrats polled agreed with this statement. 

The SLU/YouGov Poll found similar partisan divides about wearing masks. Seventy-three percent of all voters indicated they wear a mask or face covering “all of the time” when in a “store or business,” and 22% wear a mask “some of the time.” Ninety-two percent of Democrats reported they wear a mask “all of the time” in stores and small businesses, but only 60% of Republican voters do.

Only 51% of Missourians Would Get a COVID-19 Vaccine

A slim majority of voters polled stated they would likely get an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine if it were available today for free. Fifty-one percent indicated they would “Definitely” or “Probably” get the vaccine, and 49% stated they would “Probably not” or “Definitely not” get the vaccine. By comparison, 68% of voters would probably or definitely get an FDA-approve flu vaccine for themselves.

“These findings are troubling and partly due to the polarization of COVID-19,” said Rogers. “Democratic voters were over 15% more likely to say they would get a vaccine, which is partly attributable to greater trust in the FDA.”

The SLU/YouGov poll found that voters who definitely would not get a COVID-19 vaccine were less trusting of FDA. Eighty-two percent of Democrats polled definitely or probably trust the FDA, but only 66% of Republicans did.

Black Lives Matter and Support for McCloskeys

Across the country and in the state of Missouri have been controversies over race relations, law enforcement and the Black Lives Matter protests. Half of Missouri voters overall and 75% of African Americans rated race relations in their community as “Fair” or “Poor.” Forty-six percent of voters rated race relations as “Excellent” or “Good.” 

These findings are comparable to those found in the June SLU/YouGov Poll. In June, 63% of Missouri voters also rated law enforcement in their community as “Good” or “Excellent,” and 35% rated law enforcement as “Fair” or “Poor.”

There has been national-level debate over whether President Trump has done more to reduce or escalate violence during protests. Only 35% of Missouri voters thought Trump’s response to protests have reduced violence, and 46% said it contributed to its escalation. Nineteen percent of voters were not sure.

“This result is somewhat surprising for a red state that favors Trump in the presidential election,” Warren said.

In Missouri, debate around St. Louis residents Mark and Patricia McCloskey’s interactions with protesters and their recent grand jury indictment.

Governor Parson stated that he would “certainly” pardon the McCloskeys if they were convicted for unlawful use of a weapon when interacting with protesters. When asked about this issue, 55% of Missouri voters stated that the McCloskeys “acted responsibly within their rights to defend their home,” while 40% stated the McCloskeys “acted irresponsibly and unlawfully in waving their guns at protesters” (margin of error 5.9%). 

Top-line survey results

Demographic and Party Cross-Tabs 

Results by Trump/Biden and Parson/Galloway Supporters

Methodology and Funding

YouGov interviewed 931 likely Missouri voters between September 24, 2020 and October 7, 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 3.9%. Reduced samples of voters answered some questions, and margins of error for these questions are indicated above. The SLU/YouGov Poll is funded by SLU Research Institute Big Ideas competition, which provides funding to research initiatives that demonstrate broad faculty engagement, strong leadership and compelling research plans.

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.

A Note from SLU Poll Director Steven Rogers: 

On Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, Saint Louis University released results from a statewide survey of likely Missouri voters conducted between Sept. 24 and Oct. 7, 2020, by YouGov. In this survey, we asked voters which of the two major party candidates they supported in their U.S. House race. The SLU Poll team reported these results by congressional district, using weights that were designed to be representative of statewide characteristics rather than a specific congressional district. After consultation with YouGov, we should not have presented these results based on small geographic units. 

The SLU Poll team has removed Congressional district results from their analysis as they did not meet our high standards. In the interest of transparency, the SLU Poll team has posted the individual-level data from our October poll to so researchers and the general public can conduct their own analyses.  

The SLU Poll team aims to provide Missouri and its citizens accurate assessments of Missouri public opinion. We continue to be committed to transparency and gaining the trust of Missouri citizens.