In the race to challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill for a U.S. Senate seat, Republicans are likely going to select Attorney General Josh Hawley on the August 7 primary.
That’s not a good sign for more right-wing Republicans. They know the polls show Hawley losing to McCaskill, and they’re convinced a more conservative GOP pick would lead to victory. The problem is those other Republican options, including Austin Petersen and Tony Monetti, are splitting the votes and giving Hawley a path to primary victory.
That’s why those two men came up with a plan last month. They would conduct a phone poll to see which of them had a better chance of beating Hawley… and the loser would drop out of the race, presumably sending all of his support to the competitor.
Makes sense. If you’re on the verge of losing, might as well band together in a last ditch effort for survival.
Too bad for them, that deal is now dead. And it’s all because they couldn’t agree on a question involving religion.
The two men and their staffs came to a tentative agreement on three poll questions that simply measured support and name-recognition for each candidate. But then Monetti backed out, because Petersen wouldn’t allow him to have the poll topped with a question asking respondents if they would vote for Petersen if they knew additional things about him, including that he “does not believe in God.”
Petersen, who describes himself as agnostic, said he would allow the question as long as it was asked last and didn’t play a role in determining the poll’s winner. (It would just be for informational purposes.) Monetti wouldn’t agree to that. His team wanted to allow poll participants to change their first answer (the main one about who they’d support) after hearing about Petersen’s religious views.
This is, of course, a classic version of push polling, where you trash a candidate under the guise of a simple question. By asking about Petersen’s agnosticism right up front, Monetti was clearly hoping religious voters would throw their support to him instead. Petersen knew that and refused to play along.
Both men deserve to lose and I hope the eventual Republican nominee gets walloped by McCaskill come November, but it’s entertaining to watch the GOP nominees go after each other on the basis of an irrelevant religious disagreement.