By Kenneth Warren, Ph.D., Associate Director, SLU/YouGov Poll
SLU/YouGov Poll Shows Trump Apparently Blew His Comfortable Lead With Missouri Voters By His Panned Debate Performance
In our late June SLU/YouGov poll, Trump had a 7 point lead over Biden. In our October poll conducted September 24 – October 7th, Trump continues to lead Biden, increasing his lead slightly for an 8.6% advantage, 51.8% to 43.2%.
The SLU/YouGov Poll conducted from June 23 through July 1, 2020 shows that 50% of likely voters intend to support Donald Trump in the November presidential election. 43% intend to support Joe Biden; 4% intend to support another candidate; and 4% are not sure.
But these overall poll numbers are telling only part of the story. Before the debate Trump led Biden 54% to 42% in our SLU/YouGov poll, but after his September 29th debate that was panned by most pundits, his numbers dropped significantly to only a narrow lead over Biden, 49% to 45%, almost within our margin of error. These post-debate numbers cannot be ignored, so we do not feel comfortable posting the 51.8% 43.2% poll numbers. We are more comfortable posting the post-debate numbers with an asterisk. These post-debate poll numbers may also explain why the Biden campaign is pouring so much money into TV ads in Missouri. Campaigns do not make major ad buys in a state they feel they have no chance of winning.
Although Missouri was once the nation’s best bellwether state during the 20th century, it has been moving into the red column since Bill Clinton won Missouri in 1992 and 1996. This is due mostly to Missouri remaining a mostly “non-minority” state. While nationally heavily Democratic minority percentages have been increasing, especially the Hispanic population, this has not been the case in Missouri. Missouri is 83% white, 12% Black, and 4% Hispanic, contrasted to 17% Hispanic and 61% white, non-Hispanic nationwide.
George W. Bush won the state by 3% in 2000 over Al Gore; Bush defeated Kerry by a larger percentage in 2004, winning by 7%. In a Democratic year when Barack Obama won nationally by over 7%, he still lost Missouri, although barely, by .13% of the vote. However, with Democrats giving up on Missouri and not campaigning seriously in Missouri in 2012 and 2016, Republican presidential candidates won big with Mitt Romney winning by 9.4% in 2012 and Donald Trump winning in 2016 by 18.5% with Trump’s coattails allowing fellow Republican candidates on the ballot in 2016 to win all statewide races.
Trump is winning in the state because overall Missourians approve of the job he is doing with 53% of Missouri’s likely voters saying that they “approve” (18%) to “strongly approve” (35%) of his job performance. Trump’s lead over Biden in Missouri is also in line with how other Republican candidates are doing in major statewide races. Our SLU/YouGov poll shows Republican gubernatorial candidate ahead by 6% and Republican Attorney General candidate up by 9.5%.
As we noted when analyzing our June poll results, Trump appears to be winning in Missouri, but his numbers have dropped significantly since his 2016 win in Missouri when he won by 18.5%. His numbers are down in virtually every demographic: men 62% to 56%, down 6%); women (53% to 48%, down 5%); white voters (66% to 57%, down 9%); black voters (8% to 8%, even); age, 18-29 (51% to 29%, down 22%); 30 to 44 (48% to 47%, down 1%); 45 to 64 (63% to 55%, down 8%); 65+ (62% to 62%, even); education, no high school degree (62% to 71%, up 9%); some college (57% to 46%, down 11%); college degree (56% to 46%, down 10%); post graduate degree (53% to 22%, down 31%), and Evangelicals (83% to 75%, down 8%).
Overall, Trump continues to do well in rural Missouri, polling the best in southeast Missouri (73%) and southwest Missouri (64%), but he does not fare well in the Kansas City and St. Louis metro areas (38% and 40%, respectively). Caution: these percentages are for our overall SLU/YouGov poll findings. Given Trump’s significant drop in our post-debate poll numbers, Trump is likely doing worse in all these demographic percentages posted above.
According to our poll’s findings, the vast majority of Missourians, 77%, say they plan to vote in-person with 59% of these in-person voters saying they will vote for Trump. Those saying they will vote by absentee ballot by mail, cast absentee ballot in-person, and by mail-in, all favor Biden by hefty percentage; 67%, 76%, and 66% respectively. However, these ballots will constitute only 23% of the total ballots cast. This suggests that Trump will likely be far ahead of Biden on Election Night, but Biden will likely close the gap somewhat as non-in-person ballots are counted.