ST. LOUIS — There are less than two months until the Missouri primary as Republicans try to figure out who will run to replace retiring U.S. Senator Roy Blunt.
An exclusive FOX 2 poll done in conjunction with Emerson College and “The Hill” shows Eric Greitens in the lead for the Republican nomination.
Greitens, the state’s former governor, leads the poll beyond the margin of error of 3%.
The poll of 1,000 likely Republican primary voters was conducted between June 2 and June 5, with 26% of voters saying they plan on voting for Greitens. He holds a 6-point lead over Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and a 10-point lead over Fourth District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler.
The Greitens campaign responded to the poll, saying: “The voters of Missouri know Eric Greitens is the only America First candidate who will not only win the primary and general elections but also go to Washington to clean up the mess Democrats and RINOs have caused.”
Seventh District Congressman Billy Long is in fourth place with 8%, and political outsider Mark McCloskey garnered just under 4%.
“It’s him (Greitens) or Schmitt, it seems like at this point. Hartzler does have that support among women and some more statewide name recognition than say her colleague Billy Long, so I would say that it’s a bit of a three-way race at this point because you do have some time between now and the primary day,” Camille Mumford, communications director at Emerson College Polling, said.
She said Greitens has a 25% “very favorable” view, but also a 26% “very unfavorable” view. Greitens was accused of blackmail and sexual assault, which led to his resignation as governor in 2018.
Despite that, his favorability is 10 points higher among women than men. This poll shows that 27% of women support him. Hartzler comes in second at 18%.
Hartzler’s campaign released the following response: “Vicky is in a strong position to win which has been confirmed by multiple polls,” Hartlzer’s campaign said in response to the poll. “She has the most cash-on-hand heading into the home stretch.”
Her campaign also noted endorsements from political figures, including Senators Josh Hawley.
Meanwhile, Greitens holds 24% of men supporting him, only trailing Schmitt at 25%. In total, Mumford said this may be Greitens’ race to lose, but there are other things to keep in mind.
While 55% of respondents said their vote will go to the candidate they picked in the poll, 45% said they could change their mind.
“Within that, a stronger majority of people who support Greitens and Hartzler are sticking with their candidate compared to Schmitt supporters, which it’s still a majority,” Mumford said. “It is still 55% of folks who say they’ll definitely support him in the primary election and won’t change their mind. However, it does seem like his support is a bit softer than Greitens and Hartzler voters.”
There is a Trump card that quite literally could play into this race. We asked this question: If former President Donald Trump endorsed a candidate, would that make you more or less likely to vote for that candidate?
Given that scenario, 49% said they’d be more likely to vote for the candidate he endorses, 41% said it’d make no difference and 10% said they’d be less likely to vote for the candidate Trump chooses.
The Schmitt campaign called this a two-candidate race, telling FOX 2: “Eric Schmitt is the only candidate who can keep Missouri’s U.S. Senate seat red. The other candidate would ultimately lose the seat, while Eric Schmitt would dominate in November, and fight for an America First agenda.”
The Long campaign said: “Teddy Roosevelt was the first candidate to do retail politics. I may be the last. Roosevelt went all over the state campaigning for Governor as I have. The leaders in this race are rarely seen on the campaign trail and both refuse to debate.”
FOX 2 also spoke with the McCloskey campaign about this poll. They cited a recent poll from Cygnal that shows him leading the race. They said in the Cygnal poll of 500 likely Missouri voters that McCloskey is in a statistical dead heat with Greitens, and when voters were asked who their first and second choice were, McCloskey was ahead of all candidates by three percentage points.