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SLU/YouGov Poll: Missouri Voters Support Abortion Initiative, Sports Betting and Open Enrollment

03/13/2024Media Inquiries

Maggie Rotermund
Senior Media Relations Specialist

Reserved for members of the media.


Ashcroft and Quade hold double-digit leads among their party’s supporters in the Governor’s race.

The February 2024 SLU/YouGov Poll surveyed 900 likely Missouri voters about their opinions regarding the 2024 election, critical political issues facing the state and country, Missouri education issues, and matters being considered by the Missouri legislature.

2024 Gubernatorial Election

Missouri Voters’ Policy Views

Approval of Key Political Figures

The margin of error for the full survey sample is ± 3.72%. Top-line survey results can be found here. Results with demographic and party cross-tabs can be found here.

Abortion Ballot Initiative

SLU/YouGov poll respondents saw the proposed ballot language for a constitutional amendment to end Missouri’s ban on abortion. Missouri voters supported the constitutional amendment by a margin of seven percentage points (44% vs. 37%), Democrats voiced overwhelming support for such a ballot measure (71% vs. 11%), while Republican respondents indicated that they would not support it, though by a slimmer margin (24% vs. 56%). Independents also supported the ballot measure (44% vs. 38%).

In the August 2022 SLU/YouGov Poll, only 13% of respondents said they were not sure if they would vote to overturn the abortion ban. When presented the proposed ballot language in February 2024, the percentage of not sure respondents rose to 19%.

“The proposed ballot language was contested in the courts and is not perfectly clear,” said Steven Rogers, Ph.D., SLU/YouGov Poll Director and associate professor of Political Science at Saint Louis University. “Some respondents may have been confused by the ballot language. Abortion advocates will likely need to educate voters about what the ballot language means.”

Sports Betting and Video Gaming Machines

Sixty percent of voters said they thought betting on professional sports should be legal in Missouri, one of the 12 remaining states where sports betting is not legal. Only 25% of all voters indicated that they thought betting on professional sports in the state should remain illegal, with 14% saying they were not sure.

“Betting on professional sports has more support from younger voters than older ones,” said Rogers. “For example, 76% of respondents aged 18-29 supported legalization of sports betting compared to only 45% of those aged 65 and older.”

Legalizing sports betting is still being considered in the legislature, but the Missouri Senate is at an impasse because of disagreement over whether to also legalize video-gaming machines. More than half of Missouri voters indicated that video lottery gaming machines in bars, truck stops, fraternal organizations, and veterans’ organizations should be legal in the state for those over 21. Thirty-one percent said it should not be legal. When asked about legalizing video lottery gaming machines in convenience stores, there was less support, with 46% supporting legalization and 40% opposing.

2024 Gubernatorial and Presidential Elections

Republicans will likely keep hold of the Governor’s mansion after the 2024 elections. When asked, “If the election for Governor of the state of Missouri were being held today, who would you vote for,” 52% of Missouri voters chose a generic Republican candidate, and 38% opted for a generic Democratic candidate.

Among SLU/YouGov poll respondents who said they would vote for the Republican candidate in the general election, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft led by almost a three-to-one margin, with 28% saying they most favor Ashcroft, while 10% favored Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, 8% supported State Senator Bill Eigel, and 3% favored Chris Wright (Margin of Error ± 5.54%).

“Jay Ashcroft benefits greatly from the Ashcroft name, well known to Missouri voters,” said Ken Warren, Ph.D., associate director of the SLU/YouGov Poll and a professor of political science at SLU.

Of voters who said they would only vote for the Democratic candidate in the general election, 21% of voters said they were most likely to vote for State Representative Crystal Quade, 5% were most likely to support Mike Hamra, and 4% were most likely to support each Sheryl Gladney and Sarah Unsicker. These Republican and Democratic supporters were not asked if they intended to vote in the Missouri primary election in August.

In August 2023, when asked by the SLU/YouGov Poll, “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” (Margin of Error ± 4.02%).

Open Enrollment

The Missouri House of Representatives passed a bill this session that would allow students to attend public schools outside of their resident school district if the new school opts into the open enrollment program. Fifty-nine percent of Missouri likely voters supported students being allowed to enroll in public schools out of the school district where they live, 30% opposed, and 11% were not sure.

Thirty-nine percent of voters believe that school districts should be able to opt out of having students transfer into their districts, and 43% do not believe school districts should be able to opt out.

“Results suggest Missouri voters do not believe school enrollment should be limited to district boundaries,” said Ashley Burle, Ph.D., associate director of the Saint Louis University/YouGov poll and interim director of graduate admissions for Saint Louis University’s School of Education. “Missouri voters indicated bi-partisan support for open enrollment at all schools. However, voters are more divided on whether school districts should be able to opt out of receiving transfer students.”

Voters also support letting students stay in a school district’s public schools, even if they move out of a district. Seventy-seven percent of voters supported allowing such moving students to stay in a district’s schools for the complete school year, and 55% supported moving students to remain in a district’s schools until they graduate high school.

“Open enrollment has received attention from the Missouri legislature for multiple sessions,” said Rogers. “The SLU/YouGov Poll did a real deep dive into the subject to help inform policymakers as they debate this important public education issue.”

Death Penalty in Missouri

In 2023, Missouri was one of only five U.S. states to carry out the death penalty, and two state executions have already been scheduled for 2024. Brian Dorsey, convicted of the 2006 murder of his cousin and her husband in central Missouri, is scheduled to be executed on April 1. David R. Hosier is scheduled to be executed on June 11 for killing a Jefferson City woman in 2009.

Sixty-two percent of Missouri voters favored death penalty sentences in cases of first-degree murder, and 24% of voters opposed. When broken down by political party, Republicans were more supportive of the death penalty in cases of first-degree murder than Democrats or Independents. Eighty-six percent of Republican voters favored the death penalty compared to 37% of Democrats and 58% of Independents.

As Brian Dorsey remains on death row, 60 correctional officers have tried to stop his execution and have urged Governor Parson to grant him clemency as they believe Dorsey has been a model inmate who they believe does not deserve the death penalty. Parson has not granted clemency.

“Dorsey has unusual sources of support for his clemency case,” said Rogers. “But only a slim majority (52%) of Missouri voters favor the Governor being allowed to change death penalty sentences to life in prison without parole.”

Property and Grocery Taxes

With rising property tax payments for many Missourians, the Missouri legislature recently passed legislation allowing counties to freeze property taxes for senior citizens 62 years old or older. Eighty percent of Missouri voters agreed that property taxes should not be raised for Missouri homeowners who are 62 years old or older (Margin of Error ± 5.33).

“Unsurprisingly, older voters were more likely to oppose raising property taxes on seniors than young voters,” said Rogers. “Eighty-eight percent of voters 45 or older did not want to raise taxes, but fewer than 65% of voters 44 years old or young did not want to raise taxes.”

Missouri is one of 13 states that has a sales tax on groceries, and Democrats and Republicans have sponsored bills the current and past session have proposed eliminating the 1.225% sales tax on groceries, which Missouri voters strongly support. Eighty-one percent of Missouri voters support eliminating state sales taxes on products and food eligible for SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), 72% support eliminating local sales taxes on these products, and 71% percent support eliminating state and local sales taxes.

Voters not happy with the direction of the state or country but favorable to Missouri politicians

Only 39% of Missouri voters agreed that the state was on the right track and headed in a good direction, while 42% disagreed. Reflecting this negative sentiment, at least 70% of Missouri voters rated the state economy, state public schools, and roads and infrastructure as either “fair” or “poor.”

For the fourth straight SLU/YouGov poll, Gov. Mike Parson remains the most popular Missouri political figure asked about. Fifty-two percent of voters approve of Parson’s performance, and 42% disapprove.

“It is important to remember our poll interviews were only conducted until February 26,” noted Rogers. “This was before Parson’s controversial commutation of Britt Reid’s DWI sentence, so Parson may not still be the most popular political figure today.”

“U.S. Senator Josh Hawley’s job approval ratings also moved up slightly since we last polled in August of 2023,” said Warren. “In this most recent poll, he received a 50% combined approval percentage with 27% ‘strongly approving’ and 23% ‘approving,’ up from 47% combined score in August 2023.”

U.S. Sen. Eric Schmitt also slightly increased his job approval scores from 42% to 45% from August 2023 to February 2024.

Only 18% of Missouri voters agreed with the statement that the United States is on the right track and headed in a good direction, while 74% disagreed (Margin of Error ± 5.25%). A mere 14% of voters approved of the U.S. Congress’s performance, the lowest-ever approval rating recorded by the SLU/YouGov Poll since 2020 (Margin of Error ± 5.25%). Only 37% of Missouri voters approved of Joe Biden’s performance as President, which is 1 percent lower than his approval rating in the August 2023 SLU/YouGov Poll.

Methodology and Funding

YouGov interviewed 900 likely Missouri voters between Feb. 14-26, 2024. 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 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 3.74%.

The February 2024 SLU/YouGov Poll was funded by the PRiME Center in SLU’s School of Education.

About YouGov

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.”

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 more than 15,200 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.