SLU/YouGov Poll: Voters Weigh In on 2024 Presidential Election, Education, LGBTQ Issues
Trump leads by a 2:1 margin over other presidential candidates among non-Biden supporters.
The August 2023 SLU/YouGov Poll interviewed 900 likely Missouri voters about issues facing the Missouri legislature and their opinions about the 2024 presidential election, schools, and LGBTQ issues. At least 63% of voters believe transgender minors should not be able to receive medical care such as hormone treatment, puberty blockers, or gender-affirming surgery.
2024 Presidential Election
- Thirty-five percent of Missouri voters would support President Biden in the 2024 presidential election. Fifty percent of voters indicated they would support a “Republican Candidate.”
- Fifty-two percent of non-Biden supporters indicated they would “most likely” support Donald Trump, while 17% indicated Ron DeSantis.
Teacher Shortages and Transgender Student-Athletes
- Fifty-four percent of voters think K-12 teacher shortages are “somewhat of a big problem” or a “big problem” in their local area.
- Only 35% of voters would advise a young adult to take up teaching in public schools.
- Eighty-one percent of voters think public school teacher salaries should increase.
- Sixty-seven percent of voters oppose allowing transgender student-athletes to play sports teams that match their gender identity.
Issues heard by the U.S. Supreme Court
- Fifty-two percent of Missouri voters agreed with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down President Biden’s student loan debt forgiveness program.
- Only 22% of voters believe colleges should be allowed to consider an applicant’s race, among other factors, when making decisions on admissions.
Approval of Key Political Figures
- President Joe Biden’s performance: 38% approve, 60% disapprove.
- Governor Mike Parson’s performance: 49% approve, 43% disapprove.
- Senator Josh Hawley’s performance: 47% approve, 45% disapprove.
- Senator Eric Schmitt’s performance: 42% approve, 38% disapprove.
2024 Presidential Election
Missouri again will likely be a red state in the 2024 presidential elections. President Joe Biden only received 41% of the vote in Missouri in the 2020 presidential election, and when asked in July and August of 2023, “If the election for President of the United States were being held today, who would you vote for,” only 35 percent of Missouri voters said Joe Biden, 50% said “Republican Candidate,” 6% said “Other,” and 9% said “Not sure.”
The first Republican Presidential Primary debate is Aug. 23, and Donald Trump is the most preferred candidate for voters who did not indicate support for Joe Biden in the 2024 presidential election. Seventeen percent of non-Biden voters supported Florida Governor Ron DeSantis; 9% supported Mike Pence; and 5% each supported Nikki Haley and Tim Scott. Republican Candidate Vivek Ramaswamy was not a listed candidate for voters to select, but 1.7% of voters volunteered that they would support Ramaswamy. Less than 1 percent of voters volunteered Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
“The 2024 presidential election is still fifteen months away, and much can happen in politics during this period,” said Ken Warren, Ph.D., associate director of the SLU/YouGov Poll and a professor of political science at SLU. “However, what our SLU/YouGov poll is showing is what almost all other polls show. Trump is not losing ground among Republicans despite the problems he has faced, including an increasing number of indictments.”
Restricting Medical Care for Transgender Minors
Governor Parson signed the “Missouri Save Adolescents From Experiment (SAFE) Act” in June behind closed doors, which made it illegal for healthcare providers to perform gender transition surgeries on minors and banned cross-sex hormones or puberty-blocking drugs for minors in gender transition. Most Missouri voters agreed with these provisions of the SAFE Act. Sixty-three percent of Missouri voters opposed allowing minors “to receive gender transition medical care like hormone therapy or medication that can temporarily prevent the effects of puberty,” and 73% of voters opposed minors being allowed to have “gender-affirming surgery.”
“Missourians indisputably favor restricting gender transition medical care for minors,” said Steven Rogers Ph.D., SLU/YouGov Poll Director and associate professor of political science at SLU. “But they do not completely oppose gender-affirming care for minors. Forty-four percent of voters favored, and 44% of voters opposed minors being able to receive gender-affirming counseling.”
Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Schools
Republican lawmakers have proposed limiting library and school materials available to minors, such as those that address sexually explicit material. However, the August 2023 SLU/YouGov Poll found that only 33% of Missouri voters favor banning “books with stories about gay or lesbian youth” from public schools, and only 38% favored banning “books with stories about transgendered youth.”
Missouri voters also favor allowing discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity issues with high school students. Fifty-six percent of voters favor allowing public schools to discuss sexual orientation issues with high school students. However, only 18% favor allowing such discussions in elementary schools, and 38% favor such discussions in middle schools. Findings are similar for allowing public schools to discuss gender identity. Fifty-one percent of voters favor public schools being allowed to discuss gender identity issues with students in high school, but only 19% and 34% of voters favor allowing such discussions in elementary and middle schools.
Voters worried about teacher shortages
Missouri has over 3,500 full-time teacher vacancies (MO DESE, May 2023), and the August SLU/YouGov poll found that Missouri voters are concerned about teachers missing in their classrooms. Fifty-two percent of voters stated that the K-12 teacher shortage was “a very big problem” or “somewhat of a problem” in their local area.
However, only 35% of voters stated they would “advise a young adult to take up teaching in public schools as a career.” A likely reason for this is that Missouri has the second lowest average starting teaching salary in the nation (NEA, April 2023), and an overwhelming majority of Missouri voters – 81% - believe that teacher salaries should increase. In the August 2022 SLU/YouGov poll, 71% of Missouri voters supported raising the minimum starting teacher salary from $25,000 to $38,000.
“Missouri teachers are leaving the profession at a higher rate, and compounding the crisis is a lack of new teachers entering the pipeline,” said Ashley Donaldson Burle, SLU/YouGov Poll associate director who is the chief of operations and a research fellow at Saint Louis University’s PRiME Center. “Nearly a third of Missouri districts will be on a 4-day school week schedule this year—many citing teacher shortages as a motivation—but the February 2023 SLU/YouGov Poll found that only 34% of voters favor permanent four-day school weeks.”
Voters Support Recent Supreme Court Decisions
Only 43 percent of Missouri voters stated they approved of the U.S. Supreme Court’s performance, a 5% drop from the February 2023 poll, and 52% currently disapprove of the Court’s performance. Despite divided approval of the Court, voters favored the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decisions concerning race-based college admissions and student loan forgiveness.
Missouri voters seem to agree with Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion that college applicants “must be treated based on his or her experiences as an individual — not on the basis of race.” Over two-thirds of Missouri voters do not believe colleges should be allowed to consider an applicant’s race, among other factors, when making decisions on admissions. Forty-seven percent of Democratic voters supported race-based admissions, but only 6% of Republicans expressed similar support. More educated and higher-income voters were more likely to support race-based admissions, but fewer than 37% of voters who have post-graduate degrees or earn more than $150,000 a year support race-based admissions.
Most Missouri voters also agreed with the statement: “The U.S. Supreme Court was correct in striking down President Biden’s student loan debt forgiveness program.” Older voters were most likely to agree with the Court’s decision. Sixty-three percent of voters 65 years old or older agreed, but only 34% of voters under the age of 30 agreed. Voters with a high school education were at least 6 percent more likely to agree with the decision than voters with at least a four-year college degree.
Missouri Political Figures
Forty percent of Missouri voters agreed with the statement that Missouri is on the right track (MoE ± 5.82%), and 79% rated the Missouri state economy as “Fair” or “Poor.” These figures remain largely unchanged from findings in the February 2023 SLU/YouGov poll, where 40% of Missouri voters thought Missouri was on the right track, and 79% had pessimistic views of the state economy.
“Missouri voters are still unhappy with the direction of the state,” said Rogers. “But they are more positive about Missouri than the United States. Twenty percent of voters think the United States is on the right track, up from 16% in our February polling.”
“Overall, Biden, Parson, and Hawley all received about the same approval ratings from Missourians in our August 2023 poll as they did in past SLU/YouGov Polls,” said Warren.
For the third straight SLU/YouGov poll, Governor Mike Parson remains the most popular Missouri political figure asked about in the SLU/YouGov Poll. Forty-nine percent of voters approve of the Governor’s performance, and 43% disapprove.
Forty-six percent of Missouri voters approve of the Missouri state legislature’s performance (MoE ± 5.50%), which is five percentage points lower than the legislature’s approval rating in the February 2023 SLU/YouGov poll.
Federal political figures were less popular than Parson or the state legislature. Thirty-eight percent of voters approved of President Biden’s performance, and 60% disapproved. Voters’ opinions of Senator Josh Hawley also remain largely unchanged from February 2023, where 47% of voters in each poll approved of the Senator’s performance. However, 4% more voters “strongly approved.” Forty-two percent of voters approved of Senator Eric Schmitt’s performance, a slight drop from the 44% approved in February 2023.
Methodology and Funding
YouGov interviewed 900 likely Missouri voters between July 27 and August 8, 2023. The YouGov panel, a proprietary opt-in survey panel, is comprised of 3.1 million United States 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 Missouri voters from the the American Community Survey (ACS) public use microdata file, public voter file records, the 2020 Current Population Survey (CPS) Voting and Registration supplements, the 2020 National Election Pool (NEP) exit poll, and the 2020 CES surveys, including demographics and 2020 presidential vote. The margin of error for the weighted data is 4.02%. Reduced samples of voters answered some questions, and the margins of error for these questions are indicated above.
The SLU/YouGov Poll is funded by the PRiME Center in SLU’s School of Education and the Saint Louis University Research Institute Big Ideas competition, which provides funding to research initiatives that demonstrate broad faculty engagement, strong leadership and compelling research plans.
Saint Louis University has partnered with YouGov to conduct its annual survey of Missouri voters. 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 that YouGov “consistently outperforms competitors.”