Every time PPP has polled Missouri this year it's found the same thing: voters very closely divided on Claire McCaskill. 43% of voters on our newest survey approve of the job she's doing to 47% who disapprove. Opinions about her are pretty much completely polarized along party lines: 80% of Democrats approve of her and at the same time 79% of Republicans disapprove of her. Putting her numbers in negative territory overall is that independents split against her by a 40/48 spread.
Nevertheless McCaskill leads all of her potential Republican opponents for reelection, albeit by extremely narrow margins. She's up a point on Sarah Steelman at 43-42, two on Todd Akin at 45-43, and her lead widens to 9 over John Brunner at 46-37.
In a finding that's very symbolic of the current political climate McCaskill leads all 3 of the Republicans- Steelman by 2, Akin by 6, and Brunner by 9- with independents despite her own unpopularity with that group of voters. They don't like McCaskill but they don't care much for the alternatives either. That's reflective of a highly discontent electorate.
The Republican candidates continue to be largely unknown and that doesn't bode well for McCaskill looking further down the road. Steelman is the best known of the candidates but even she has just 48% name recognition. Akin, who only 43% of voters are familiar with, and Brunner, who's known just 26% of the electorate are even more obscure. What that lack of familiarty does is drive up the percentage of Republicans who are undecided. In the McCaskill/Steelman match 7% of Democrats are undecided compared to 19% of Republicans. In the McCaskill/Akin match 7% of Democrats are undecided to 12% of Republicans. And in the McCaskill/Brunner match 5% of Democrats are undecided to 22% of Republicans. Odds are once the GOP has a candidate those voters come home and that would be enough to vault Steelman and Akin over McCaskill and into the lead.
All of that said these numbers can't be seen as all that bad for McCaskill. The political climate has deteriorated for Democrats over the last four months but her position is about the same now as it was in early May. It's not a terribly strong position but for her sake at least it's not getting worse. This looks like a Missouri style sheer toss up- it could be a race similarly close to 2006.
Full results here