Missouri Gov. Mike Parson appears to be “pulling away” from State Auditor Nicole Galloway in his bid for a full, four-year term, new polling from St. Louis University and YouGov suggests.

A survey of 931 likely Missouri voters conducted Sept. 24 to Oct. 7 split 50 percent for Parson, a Republican, and 44 percent for Galloway, a Democrat.

The latest results are roughly in line with other public polling showing Parson with a relatively stable lead as the race enters the home stretch.

A Missouri Scout/Remington Research poll conducted Sept. 30-Oct. 1 had Parson up seven points, and another conducted two weeks before had him up by 9 points.

But the SLU numbers represented a significant shift from the university’s last poll in June, which had the race in a statistical dead heat.

In an accompanying analysis, poll director Steven Rogers explained the shift as the result of once-undecided voters moving decisively for Parson.

More than half of the 17 percent of voters who weren’t sure who they’d vote for in June now back Parson, Rogers wrote, while only 27 percent broke for Galloway.

And overall, Parson continued to enjoy strong leads among men — especially white men — and voters outside of St. Louis and Kansas City.

Galloway held a narrow lead among women, a large lead among Black survey participants, and majorities in the major urban areas, but it wasn’t enough to close the gap.

“For Galloway to be successful, she will either need extremely high turnout from St. Louis and Kansas City or to convince more rural voters to support her,” Rogers, the poll director, wrote.

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The 931 voters surveyed also weighed in on the presidential election, and again predictably backed President Donald Trump over former Vice President Joe Biden by roughly 9 percentage points.

However, political scientist Ken Warren, the poll’s associate director, noted Trump’s lead dropped to 4 points among voters interviewed after his widely panned debate performance Sept. 29, suggesting a Trump win isn’t guaranteed.

Warren said the Biden campaign may even think it could break through here given the money it’s pouring into TV ads right now.

“Campaigns do not make major ad buys in a state they feel they have no chance of winning,” he wrote.

The SLU pollsters also surveyed the likely voters on a number of other top issues, including a COVID-19 vaccine and the state of the economy.

Only 51 percent of said they would “definitely” or “probably” get an approved vaccine, which does not currently exist; while 49 percent said they probably or definitely wouldn’t.

Those numbers are likely unwelcome news for doctors, public health workers and politicians who see a vaccine as the only way to return public life to normal without sacrificing millions of lives to reach herd immunity. 

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Rogers, the poll director, said the “troubling” numbers are partly due to polarization of opinion on the virus: Democratic voters were more than 15 percent more likely to say they would get a vaccine and significantly more likely than Republicans to say they trust the federal Food and Drug Administration, which approves vaccines.

Democrats were also more likely to take expert-recommended precautions, such as wearing a mask in public places.

Ninety-two percent of Democrats surveyed said they wear masks “all the time” in stores and small businesses, while only 60 percent of Republicans said they do.

Views on the economy were also polarized, even more so than the virus.

Fifty-five percent of Republicans rated Missouri’s economy as “excellent” or “good,” but only 6 percent of Democrats said the same.

Pollsters said that may have had something to do with why 72 percent of Republicans polled said Missouri is on the right track and heading a good direction, while only 4.7 percent of Democrats polled thought so.

Austin Huguelet is the News-Leader’s politics reporter. Got something he should know? Have a question? Call him at 417-403-8096 or email him at ahuguelet@news-leader.com. You can also support local journalism at News-Leader.com/subscribe.

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