Poll - Candidates ride razor-thin margin

Thursday, July 22, 2004

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Gov. Bob Holden is in a tight race with State Auditor Claire McCaskill for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, a new poll shows.

The poll, conducted for The Kansas City Star and KMBC-TV, found Holden leading McCaskill 43 percent to 41 percent, with 16 percent of those surveyed undecided. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 5.7 percentage points.

Market Research Institute conducted the survey July 13 through Tuesday. It surveyed 300 people who said they would request a Democratic ballot for the Aug. 3 primary.

In another poll, the firm found McCaskill with a slight lead over the likely Republican nominee for governor, Secretary of State Matt Blunt. McCaskill led 45 percent to 37 percent, with 17 percent undecided about the hypothetical matchup for the November election.

The poll found Blunt about even with Holden, with 44 percent saying they would vote for the Republican in that hypothetical race and 42 percent saying the would vote for the Democrat. Fourteen percent were undecided.

For that poll, 600 Missouri residents were surveyed. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The percentage of undecided Democrats could be bad for Holden, David Webber, political science professor at University of Missouri-Columbia, said.

"If they're undecided now, I think they're likely to go to McCaskill" by primary day, Webber said. If they were favoring Holden, they would've been for him before, he said.

Meanwhile, the McCaskill campaign said the poll shows that she can defeat Blunt, but Holden can't.

"The choice for Democrats is clear if they're looking to win in November," McCaskill spokesman Glenn Campbell said. "That's why we're in this race. We can beat Matt Blunt, period."

But Holden campaign manager Roy Temple noted that taking into account the margin of error, McCaskill could be tied with Blunt and Holden could be leading.

"Those numbers say that it's a statistical dead heat for both candidates, and that severely undermines McCaskill's argument that somehow she is the superior candidate against Matt Blunt," Temple said.

Meanwhile, Blunt spokesman John Hancock said the Republican is promising big changes for the state, while the Democrats didn't discuss any new policy ideas during debates held Monday and Tuesday nights.

"Our candidate is about new ideas and an exciting vision for the future," Hancock said.

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