The three top contenders in Missouri's GOP primary for U.S. Senate have all released internal polling touting their individual odds of beating incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) this fall.
Presumed GOP nominee Josh Hawley's campaign provided internal polling showing that at this point, a race between him and McCaskill remains statistically tied with 47 percent of Missouri voters favoring Hawley and 46 for McCaskill. Hawley is currently Missouri's Attorney General.
Spokeswoman for the Hawley campaign, Kelli Ford, told TheBlaze, "Josh received President Trump's endorsement and welcomes his support. We hope he and the Vice President come back to Missouri to campaign with us often.
"Josh is one hundred percent focused on defeating Claire McCaskill and will have the resources and strong grassroots support to win in November."
President Trump's job approval rating according to Missourians was at 53 percent in the poll, which was conducted via telephone with 600 likely voters.
Hawley is seen by the Republican Party as having the best shot at removing McCaskill from the Senate, despite criticism by some insiders who have pleaded for him to spend more time campaigning.
Trouble is, in addition to his current duties, Hawley's been dealing with a high-profile investigation of the Show-Me State's embroiled governor, whose tenure in office has so far been rife with scandal.
In a generic match-up, a Republican candidate has a 3 point lead over the incumbent Democrat.
OnMessage Inc. pollster Wes Anderson wrote in the study's campaign memo that "There is no love for Senator McCaskill among a majority of Missouri voters and it is clear that she remains one of the most vulnerable incumbents of 2018."
A poll by Emerson College also showed Hawley in a dead heat with McCaskill, but roughly 30 percentage points above either of his primary opponents. Cision PR Newswire said that Hawley "is facing little trouble in the GOP primary."
Contender Austin Petersen has the second-largest GOP campaign coffer in the primary, and his campaign said their internal polling shows that Peterson would have a higher margin over McCaskill than Hawley in a general election.
His polling was conducted by Gravis Marketing, and 822 voters were surveyed using interactive voice response technology. It found that Hawley leads McCaskill at 50 percent over 43 percent, with a 3.4 percent margin of error. But in a race between Petersen and McCaskill, the poll showed Petersen's lead at 56 percent to McCaskill's 40.
Former Libertarian Party presidential candidate Petersen said in response, "Both (Hawley and McCaskill) have shown themselves to be ladder-climbing career politicians who prioritize professional gain over honest representation of the electorate.
"After nearly a year of hearing Missourians express their frustration with the insider politics in Jefferson City and Washington on the campaign trail, I can't say I'm surprised by these results."
A third campaign, for former bomber pilot Tony Monetti, conducted their own poll of 387 known Republican primary voters via SurveyMonkey through a blind URL. Monetti's campaign manager, Jonica Hope, acknowledged that their poll wasn't scientific, but said that they were "hands-off" in the process and added: "I stand behind what we did. I stand behind the results."
Hope criticized the polling done by Petersen's campaign for not including Monetti's bid in their questioning. She said that they showed Petersen's campaign the Monetti poll, which (she told TheBlaze), Petersen's campaign disregarded, calling the poll "unreliable. " Hope added, "that was their allegations towards us that it was through Facebook and Twitter. We did not - anyone across the world can vote in a Twitter poll."
The Monetti poll showed that in a primary match-up between Monetti and Hawley (without Petersen in the race), Monetti would beat Hawley 53 percent to 46.
But Petersen isn't going anywhere.
He told TheBlaze, "I'm not dropping out. Now, I'm the frontrunner, beating Hawley by 22 points among Republicans and in total by nine points. McCaskill doesn't know how to run against a Republican like me."
In the Monetti poll conducted by his own campaign, it shows that 43 percent of GOP primary voters would vote for Hawley, 37 percent for Monetti, and 17 percent for Petersen. It also showed that if the general election were held today between Hawley and McCaskill, that bloc of voters would favor Hawley to the tune of 75 percent versus McCaskill's 1 percent.