Businessman John Brunner leads his Republican challengers in his bid to claim the party's nomination in Missouri's U.S. Senate race, a new poll released Sunday nights shows.
With Missouri Republicans set to choose their nominee on Tuesday, Brunner leads Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling's final survey of the race, earning 35 percent of the support from likely primary voters. U.S. House Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) trails with 30 percent, while former state treasurer Sarah Steelman picks up 25 percent support.
A tea party favorite, Steelman looked poised to claim the nomination for much of the campaign. Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin even paid a visit to Missouri last week to stump on Steelman's behalf. But Brunner has re-asserted himself as the front-runner thanks to support from so-called middle-of-the-road conservatives. Self-described moderates prefer him over Steelman in PPP's latest survey, 41-29 percent.
The winner of Tuesday's primary will move on to the general election campaign to challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who is considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents this year.