Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has a higher favorability rating than fellow Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, which may mean a tougher reelection campaign for the senior senator from Missouri in 2012, a recent poll finds.
The approval rating ties Nixon with recently reelected Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell, a Republican, and outgoing Connecticut Gov. Mary Jodi Rell, also a Republican, as the sixth most popular governor the polling firm has measured in 2010.
McCaskill posts only a 43 to 44 percent approval rating, PPP reports, putting her somewhere in the middle of senators.
“Nixon is actually relatively unpopular in his own party,” PPP says, showing a weak 54 to 26 percent approval rating among Democrats to McCaskill’s 77 percent to 10 percent rating.
“But Nixon is far less polarizing,” PPP notes. “Whereas McCaskill has almost reverse numbers with Republicans as Democrats, Nixon breaks even among the GOP.”
Among Republicans, Nixon has a approval rating of 34 to 37 percent, PPP reports. While 43 percent of independents approve of each, only 23 percent disapprove of Nixon, versus 40 percent for McCaskill.
“Thus, in horse races, Nixon does better than McCaskill across the aisle, pulling 14 or 15 percent of Republicans to McCaskill’s 7 or 8 percent,” according to PPP. ”Despite Nixon’s base’s beef with his job performance, they return home when it comes time to vote. Both candidates have the Democratic base almost unanimously locked up.”
Former Missouri Treasurer Sarah Steelman, a Republican, has already announced she plans to run in the Senate race. Other potential Republican contenders, including former Sen. Jim Talent, have not said whether they plan to run or not.
As Missouri Watchdog has reported, PPP ranked McCaskill in the top three of the “least popular and conceivably most vulnerable” senators up for reelection.
PPP surveyed 515 Missouri voters from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 4.3 percent.