With 2,188 responses, the 2021 Defense Of Liberty Straw Poll is closed and the results are in.
This was a rank choice poll meaning voters were not asked to vote for only their candidate of choice, but they were instead asked to rank the candidates in order of preference. The value to a rank choice poll is that it provides insight into how people would vote if candidates were systematically eliminated until the two remaining candidates faced each other n a run-off election. This is a straw poll – these numbers only indicate the pulse of the people participating at the time and anyone could have participated since the poll was made public. Emails, and device source information was tracked to limit multiple submissions.
The results of the straw poll for the next US Senator from the State of Missouri are both expected and yet contain some surprises.
An early straw poll such as this (and it is early…many of you reading this may be extremely engaged in this race (and politics in general) approximately twelve months before the August 2022 primary but I can guarantee you that a large percentage of the population will not become engaged in this race until after Memorial Day of next year at the earliest) largely measures “Name ID” and not “Preference”. You must have Name ID first…people must know who you are, and who the other candidates are, before they arrive at actual preference…deciding one candidate over another. Name ID must first be established and earned. Once the race becomes truly competitive and candidates start defining themselves, and more importantly, contrasting themselves against the other candidates, clear preference lines are drawn and the race always tightens and firms up.
What this early Name ID straw poll shows, and what people should fully realize, is that the race is wide open and that even though the poll has a “winner” there is no clear front runner.
The two candidates that lead the pack, former Governor Eric Greitens and current Attorney General Eric Schmitt, should be leading because they arguably have the most Name ID as individuals who have each won statewide elections. Attorney General Schmitt is running a smart, albeit careful and methodical, race right now and appears to be making all the right moves. One of the unknowns right now is whether Governor Greitens’ apparently solid base will continue to erode (as it has been) over the next few months or whether his base will return back home. A key could be how much truly damaging opposition research exists…and more importantly…who is willing to use it…and how much of it.
Mark McCloskey rolls in as a close third place choice because he has established what I would refer to as sudden or “meteoric” Name ID over the past year or so as a national figure owing to a very dramatic series of life events that have captured the attention of not only Missouri, but the nation. The question for McCloskey will be, how to continue to capitalize and build upon that singular Name ID, largely as the only true “outsider” candidate in the race thus far (which I view as a true positive).
The two Congressmen pull up a close fourth and fifth place because they also have significant Name ID as two very well known members of Congress within their Congressional Districts…but not too far beyond it. It is interesting that Congressman Billy Long did pull such an early interesting level of support being that he has only been in the race for about a week…although as he himself has admitted, his eventual entry into the race has been one of the worst kept secrets in Missouri politics. And announcing on Tucker Carlson did not hurt either.
And do not count out Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler at all. As the only woman thus far in the race, she holds an extremely important demographic trump (no pun intended!) card.
Finally, never count out Billy Long…a guy who won an 8 way primary for Congress 10 years ago when no one (except the really smart folks who supported him in Southwest Missouri who knew the writing on the wall) and who may actually pull that Trump (pun intended!) card out of his pocket. If any of these candidates do end up earning the coveted endorsement, that will likely end up determining the final outcome….that is the ultimate “Trump Card” of complete and total Name ID…AND…Preference…dominance in the uber Pro-Trump Show-Me State.
One important take-a-way from this poll is how former governor Eric Greitens numbers look. While he ranked in the lead, he received less than any other candidate for the voters second choice. What this seems to indicate is that people either strongly support him or strongly oppose him, so it could be difficult for Greitens to win new votes unless they are already somewhat in his camp.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Eric Schmitt ranked 2nd in the poll but his numbers also demonstrate that he is more likely than any other candidate to pick up votes from his opposition – which is the name of the game in campaigning.
Mark McCloskey’s poll results are pretty balanced and Congresswoman Hartzler and Congressman Long both have about what you would expect for two candidates who’s name ID probably isn’t very strong beyond their districts.