In most of the 11 states electing a governor this year, there’s almost no question of who’s going to win.
But as Missourians head to the polls today, they’ve got a real race on their hands.
Republican Gov. Mike Parson remains the favorite in the polls, but it’s no longer the slam dunk anticipated when he kicked off his campaign last year touting a “booming” economy.
Democratic challenger Nicole Galloway, the state auditor, has made up ground criticizing his response to COVID-19 amid rising caseloads and promising a new plan with a statewide mask mandate.
Parson, in turn, has cast his response as “balanced” between public health and the economy, hit back at Galloway as soft on crime and kept the polls from getting too close.
How it all turns out tonight remains to be seen, but there’s no mystery about what it’ll take to win.
Parson, a former Polk County sheriff, is counting on running up the score in ruby-red rural areas, limiting losses in St. Louis and Kansas City, and holding the line in the suburbs and Greene County where Democrats are trying to make inroads.
Galloway, on the other hand, will need to win big in the major metros, pick off some rural votes, and follow in the footsteps of Medicaid expansion’s recent victory in Springfield, St. Charles County and Kansas City’s Northland.
Among the external factors in play Tuesday is the presidential race, which is expected to bring out members of both parties in droves.
Polls suggest Parson can’t expect the same boost Trump offered when he won the state by 19 points in 2016, and if Democrat Joe Biden can keep things close, it could help Galloway.
But multiple polls have Parson running ahead of Trump, so longer coattails might be unnecessary.
Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and results will begin rolling out after everyone in line at 7 p.m. has voted.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.