Nationally, Joe Biden seems to have settled in to a fairly stable lead of high-single digits or low-double digits. With this has come surprisingly strong polling in some surprising states and districts. One state that has flown a bit under the radar is Missouri. Unlike Kansas or South Carolina, it lacks a competitive Senate race. However, Missouri does have a competitive House race in its second congressional district.
With this, we’ve seen a shocking trend. While Donald Trump won this seat by 11 points in 2016, it is now regarded as competitive. And we have reason to believe this trend doesn’t just extend to the district, but the state as a whole.
Republicans Warn of a Close Race
We have now been informed by several reliable Republican sources that the presidential race is close. On October 19, Elections Daily staff member Joe Szymanski was told in public by a Republican operative that the state was within one to three points at the presidential level. At the gubernatorial level, he was told that Mike Parsons is running slightly ahead of Trump.
While this news came as a surprise, it wasn’t entirely unexpected. A separate Republican source had previously said that the race in Missouri’s 2nd congressional district had shifted to favoring Democrats. Internal Democratic polling has indicated a close race, and major national outlets like the Cook Political Report and the Crystal Ball have moved the race to the “Tossup” column. Now, we have been informed by an additional Republican source that the Presidential race is indeed close.
Public Polling Corroborates
Public polling, while minimal, has also indicated a surprisingly close race in Missouri. President Trump leads by around six points in the 538 average. The Governor’s race, meanwhile, has shown a slightly larger lead. While Trump won this state by over 19 percentage points in 2016, the Senate and Gubernatorial races that year were decided by very narrow margins. In 2008, Barack Obama came within 4,000 votes of carrying the state. And in 2018, Josh Hawley narrowly defeated Senator Claire McCaskill six percentage points.
The strong rural/urban divide in the state offers opportunity for Republicans, but Democrats can remain competitive with strong margins in places like suburban St. Louis County. The fact that 2nd district is, at minimum, competitive lends credence to the fact that this race will be far closer than 2016.
Based on what we’re hearing as well as our own analysis, we will be moving both the Presidential and Gubernatorial races in Missouri from Likely Republican to Leans Republican. While Republicans are still favored in Missouri, the fact that multiple Republicans are raising alarm bells – combined with public polling and past results – have led us to make this change. We view both Trump and Parsons as favorites, but not overwhelmingly so.
Additionally, we’re moving the House race in MO-02 from Tossup to Leans Democratic. We now view Democrat Jill Schupp as the favorite in this Democratic-trending suburban seat. With polls looking increasingly grim, Rep. Ann Wagner is now an underdog in a seat Republicans have held since 1993.