Republicans may dodge a bullet after all in their efforts to keep their Senate seat in Missouri. For a while, it appeared that disgraced former governor Eric Greitens might wind up with the GOP nomination to replace retiring incumbent Roy Blunt. With one week to go, though, a new Emerson poll shows Greitens dropping fast and Attorney General Eric Schmitt taking a commanding lead over the six-candidate GOP primary field:

The final Emerson College Polling/The Hill survey of very likely voters for the Missouri Republican primary finds Eric Schmitt with a 12-point lead for US Senate over his closest competitor with 33% of the vote. Vicky Hartzler follows with 21% and Eric Greitens in third with 16%. Seventeen percent of voters are undecided. These undecided voters were asked who they are leaning towards supporting next week. When their support is allocated to the candidates total support, Schmitt’s lead expands to 39%, Hartzler 25%, and Greitens 18%. Since the June Emerson College Polling Missouri survey, Greitens lost ten points, Schmitt gained 13 points, and Hartzler gained 5 points.

Voters see Greitens as the least favorable candidate among GOP primary voters: 61% have a somewhat (11%) or very (50%) unfavorable view of the former Governor, while 33% view him somewhat (15%) or very (17%) favorably. Conversely, 61% have a very (34%) or somewhat (27%) favorable opinion of Schmitt, 28% hold a somewhat (7%) or very (21%) unfavorable opinion. Hartzler’s favorability is more split: 46% have a very (20%) or somewhat (26%) favorable view of the Representative whereas 35% have a somewhat (15%) or very (20%) unfavorable view of her.

For those who don’t recall, Greitens resigned as governor in May 2018 after a series of scandals, including one that involved allegations of revenge porn and extortion. There were also allegations of campaign-finance violations, including an alleged plot to seek foreign donors for his re-election campaign. But the extramarital affair was central to the pressure for Greitens to resign, especially after the woman testified that Greitens had been violent with her. Greitens resigned ahead of a very real impeachment effort that would have almost certainly succeeded at that point.

So how did Greitens manage to come back? Well, he hasn’t yet, and this suggests that Greitens won’t … and least not now.  It’s hard to say why he managed to lead the polls in this race until now, other than short memories and a failure of prosecutors to convict Greitens all played a part. But lead Greitens did, and for most of the primary cycle according to RCP; most of its aggregated polls over the last few months have given Greitens a narrow-to-moderate lead. Voters appear to have decided late in the cycle to shift away from Greitens.

At least, they have in the Emerson series. Trafalgar sees Schmitt pulling out in front as well, but not by nearly the same margin. Greitens has dropped to third in this series too, with Schmitt barely edging Vicki Hartzler by three:

The good news: both Schmitt and Hartzler have a lead over Greitens that exceed the margin of error, ±2.9%. The bad news: Greitens is still close enough in the Trafalgar poll to consolidate the support from minor candidates to beat both, at least theoretically. Republicans will still have to sweat this week out to see if they can put a safe candidate up against Democrats, or if their voters will stick them with an albatross in the general election and lose a winnable seat in the process.

Alpha News’ AJ Kaufman and I discussed the Missouri primary in Friday’s podcast episode, as well as Arizona’s. We also talked about Joe Biden’s static Cabinet and what that means for administration policy for the foreseeable future. You can download the audio-only versions from the links at the TEMS page.

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