Greitens leads Missouri GOP Senate primary field: poll

Disgraced former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens leads the field of Republicans vying for the party’s nomination to succeed retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), according to a new poll from The Hill and Emerson College. 

The poll of 1,000 likely GOP primary voters in Missouri found Greitens notching 26 percent support ahead of the Aug. 2 nominating contest. He’s trailed by state Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who has 20 percent support, and Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), who scored 16 percent.

No other candidate registered double-digit support in the poll, though more than one quarter of respondents — 27 percent — say that they are still undecided in the race. 

The survey is the latest showing Greitens as the frontrunner in the Missouri GOP Senate primary. A KMOV-TV/SurveyUSA poll released last month found the former governor leading Schmitt by a 9-point margin. 

Still, Greitens, who resigned as governor in 2018 amid allegations that he sexually assaulted and blackmailed his hairstylist, remains a divisive figure within the GOP. Senate Republican leaders have privately expressed concern that Greitens could jeopardize the party’s chances of retaining Blunt’s Senate seat if he wins the nomination in August.

There’s also another potentially race-altering variable: the endorsement of former President Trump. 

Trump has yet to weigh in on the GOP primary in Missouri. But Emerson College/The Hill survey found roughly half of likely Republican primary voters — 49 percent — would be more likely to support a candidate with Trump’s endorsement. 

Another 41 percent say the former president’s endorsement would make no difference.

There’s also a large portion of voters who appear willing to change their mind before the August primary. While 55 percent of respondents say they will support their preferred candidate, 45 percent say there’s still a chance that they could support someone other than their current choice. 

What’s more, Schmitt has the highest favorability rating of any GOP Senate candidate in the poll. Fifty-six percent of respondents have a favorable opinion of the Missouri attorney general, while only 20 percent have an unfavorable view.

Greitens’s favorability rating, meanwhile, is also above water. Fifty percent say they have a favorable opinion of him compared to 35 percent who have an unfavorable opinion. 

Hartzler appears less well known among Missouri Republican voters. Thirty-eight percent have a favorable view of her, while 26 percent have an unfavorable opinion, according to the poll. 

The Emerson College/The Hill poll was conducted from June 2-5 and has a credibility interval – similar to a margin of error – of +/-3 percentage points.