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“Ils sont partis! (And they’re off!)” Those are the words that the Cajun announcers of my youth would cry out at the race track as the horses left the gate. Now it’s the voice that rang out in my head when I read this first general election matchup poll between Judy Baker (D-Columbia) and Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-St. Elizabeth) for Missouri’s Ninth Congressional District. Archpundit can vouch for the pollster, having worked with them on Jeff Smith’s 2006 run for State Senate.

Judy has a much stronger foundation for this campaign, according to the pollster. Both had contentious primaries, but only Judy escaped relatively unscathed. Among those who know the candidates, 30% had a favorable opinion of Judy, while only 8% had an unfavorable opinion. By contrast, Luetkemeyer had a favorably rating of 33% and unfavorables at 16%. Baker also has positive favorability ratings with both GOP men and women, while Luetkemeyer is in the negative with Democrats who know him.

Now, this is huge. Ever since outgoing incumbent Kenny Hulshof narrowly defeated Harold Volkmer in 1996 to win the 9th District seat, he’s won big over every single Democrat who has challenged him. The only Democrat to keep him under 60% was Steve Carroll in 2000, keeping the margin of victory to a scant 21%. For Baker to be leading at this point gives me a lot of hope.

The other thing that gives me hope is that Judy has comparable cash on hand to her opponent, and the DCCC has more cash to spread around – and fewer seats to target – than their Republican counterparts. Judy should have enough money to remain competitive through Election Day, as long as supporters like you continue to help out, of course.

Another thing that popped out in looking at the historical data – Hulshof never lost Boone County. In 2006, a big Democratic year nationwide, Hulshof carried Boone County over Burghard by over 12,000 votes. Does anyone think that Baker will lose Boone to Luetkemeyer? Winning Boone County will be key in keeping the margin close, but Judy has got to replicate her success in rural areas during the primary to win in the general.

The full memo is below the fold.

To:      Baker for Congress

From: Margie Omero

           Momentum Analysis

Re:      Recent polling in MO-9

Date:  August 20, 2008

In the August 5 primary, Judy Baker emerged with both a larger vote total and a larger vote percentage than Blaine Luetkemeyer.  Our recent, post-primary polling confirms Baker’s strength. She is more popular among those who know her, and has a 2-point lead over her opponent.

Baker is more popular than Luetkemeyer among those who know each

Despite negative attacks from her opponents in the primary, far more voters are favorable toward Baker (30%) than unfavorable (8%).  Four times as many have a “very favorable” impression as have a “very unfavorable” one (12%, 3%, respectively).  Even Republicans are more likely to be favorable than favorable than unfavorable (Republican women: 13% favorable, 8% unfavorable; Republican men: 17% favorable, 15% unfavorable).



Baker – overall



Luetkemeyer – overall



Baker – GOP women



Baker – GOP men



Luetkemeyer – Dem women



Luetkemeyer – Dem men



By contrast, Blaine Luetkemeyer’s negative primary took a toll.  His favorables are comparable to Baker’s, but his unfavorables are twice as high (33% favorable, 16% unfavorable).  Not even twice as many have a “very favorable” impression as have a “very unfavorable” (11%, 7%, respectively).  And unlike Baker, he is unpopular with voter outside his own party, particularly with Democratic men.

Baker leads Luetkemeyer

This advantage in popularity translates into an advantage in the vote.  Without any candidate messaging, Baker leads

Luetkemeyer (41% Baker, 39% Luetkemeyer, 3% Millay, 16% undecided).  Baker leads among women (45% Baker, 36% Luetkemeyer), and does better with Democrats (78% Baker, 12% Luetkemeyer) than Luetkemeyer does with Republicans (14% Baker, 66% Luetkemeyer).

Judy Baker begins the general election strong from her competitive primary win.  She leads Luetkemeyer before the campaigns have engaged on issues such as health care for seniors, women, kids, and newborns.  With adequate resources, Baker can continue to expand her lead, and turn this seat from Red to Blue in November.

This memo is based on a survey of 400 general election voters in Missouri’s 9th CD.  A voter file sample was used, and respondents were further screened for likely November 2008 voters.  Interviews were conducted by telephone, August 12-14, 2008.  The margin of error for the survey overall is +/- 4.9%.  The margin of error for subgroups is larger.