Voters Guide

October 28, 2012

Romney holds commanding lead in Missouri poll

Missouri voters surveyed overwhelmingly support the Republican over Obama, with a wide margin among independents favoring the challenger and only the Kansas City area appearing to be in the president’s corner.

Bonny Roney is sure of her vote.

“We can’t stand four more years of Obama,” the 64-year-old Gladstone woman said Friday, explaining her support for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. “If we don’t have a good economy, everything else is moot.”

Jim Carnahan, 69, of Nixa, is even more blunt. “Obama has been a total disaster to the economy of this country,” he said. “He is going to ruin this country and, I think, make the global economy fail within the next four years if we put him back in there.”

Both viewpoints appear to reflect the one certainty in 2012 Missouri politics: Romney is overwhelmingly likely to win the state’s 10 electoral votes next month. In The Star’s poll, the Republican leads the incumbent Democratic president by 13 points, 54-41 percent, well outside the poll’s margin of error.

“We need change,” said 46-year-old Michelle Cryderman of Harrisonville, who took part in the poll, as did the other voters quoted in this story. “The United States is in some serious trouble, and we need somebody to turn us around.”

 The GOP candidate’s solid support in The Star’s survey isn’t a surprise. In 26 polls taken in the state over the past year, Romney has led in 23, with one tie. In Friday’s Real Clear Politics average of Missouri polls, which did not include The Star’s survey, Romney enjoyed a 10.4 percent advantage over Obama.

Both campaigns have skipped the state this year.

The Star’s poll shows both presidential campaigns doing well within their own political parties. Obama gets support from 91 percent of Democrats, while 96 percent of Republicans back Romney.

But Obama struggles significantly with independent voters. Self-identified independents made up more than a third of the poll’s sample, and they broke decisively for the Republican — 57 percent for Romney, 34 percent for Obama.

The Democrat remains personally unpopular in the state as well. He’s viewed unfavorably by 51 percent of those polled, compared with 35 percent who see him favorably. Romney’s favorability rating is almost the reverse: 52 percent favorable, 28 percent unfavorable.

For many years, political scientists and consultants believed Missouri’s urban/rural demographics made it a bellwether for national voting trends. If that were still true, Romney’s strong advantage in The Star’s poll would be very good news for his chances in other states next month.

But University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato said Missouri’s voters no longer provide clues to the nation’s direction. Voters in battleground states such as Iowa and Ohio, he said, simply see things the Missouri electorate doesn’t.

“We’ve developed a system where the true swing states are their own universes. They react to events and ads and visits that occur there,” he said. “The swing states, where hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent, have reacted to this campaign in a completely different way than non-swing states. ... The United States of America is eight states.”

Missouri’s transition from a presidential battleground to a reliably Republican stronghold has been evident for several election cycles. The state hasn’t supported the Democratic presidential nominee since 1996, including a razor-thin loss for Obama in 2008.

Despite Romney’s apparent overall advantage, urban voters continue to support the president. The incumbent leads Romney in the Kansas City area, 48-45 percent, and trails by just two points in the St. Louis region.

“I think he’s a better candidate for the job,” said Obama supporter and retired meat cutter Don Shelby of Kansas City. “It doesn’t seem like Romney understands things, especially foreign policy.”

James Campbell, 71, of Bonne Terre said Romney is too focused on the rich.

“Millionaires keep us down,” he said. “Romney wants to keep the little man down because he thinks the one percent or less should rule the world, and I don’t.”

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