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Dems Take Lead in Midwest Bellwether

A new poll in bellwether state Missouri has Democratic challengers taking the lead in campaigns for both U.S. Senate and Governor --- and over incumbents. The poll, conducted 6/19-22 by Research 2000 Missouri, finds Democratic challenger Claire McCaskill, State Auditor, leading GOP Governor Jim Talent in the 2006 Senate race by 49-43 percent. McCaskill leads among independents by 14 points, 53-49. In the 2008 race for Governor, Democrat Jay Nixon, Missouri Attorney General, leads incumbent Republican Governor Matt Blunt by 50-40 percent. Among Independents, Nixon holds a 16 point lead, 57-31 percent.

This is great news for Dems, considering that Missouri is a near-perfect bellwether state, mirroring the national demographic profile closely and picking 26 of the last 27 Presidents.

Hint for Dems: The poll also found overwhelming support for a new tax! By a margin of 62-30, respondents favored increasing the tax on every pack of cigarettes by 80 cents --- to help finance Medicaid, health care and smoking prevention. "Providing Medicaid coverage for the poor and disabled" was the leading concern of poll respondents, ahead of avoiding tax increases, education, the economy, gas prices and other concerns.