Cort Van Ostran Is Tied with Ann Wagner Right Now in Missouri's 2nd District

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COURTESY OF CORT VANOSTRAN
  • COURTESY OF CORT VANOSTRAN
Could U.S. Representative Ann Wagner (R-Ballwin) be headed to defeat?

Cort VanOstran has reason to think so. One month after the St. Louis lawyer handily took down a trio of rivals in the Democratic primary for Missouri's second congressional district, his campaign is showing off a new poll that suggests they're in striking distance for the general election — if not outright in the lead.

The poll, by Expedition Strategies, surveys 402 voters in the district, which covers a wide swath of the St. Louis suburbs. Conducted from August 23 to 26 and released earlier this week, it actually shows VanOstran up by two percent. Since the margin of error is 4.9 percent, that's a statistical dead heat.

Drilling down, VanOstran earned support from 43 percent of those surveyed, while Wagner took just 41 percent. "Don't know" was next, with fourteen percent. In short: The race is a virtual toss-up.



And that is very, very bad news for Wagner. She is the incumbent, after all, having represented the district since 2013. Yet her shenanigans — which include gleefully cackling "FREEDOM!" while voting to gut Obamacare and deriding her constituents as "radical leftists" — may not play so well in, say, south county.

"The people of this district want an independent voice in Washington, not one that votes with the Donald Trump 97 percent of the time," VanOstran's campaign said in a statement. "Congresswoman Wagner represents the worst of Washington: a politician bankrolled by corporate dollars, doing the bidding of her corporate sponsors instead of the people who live here, send their kids to school here, and work here."

Indeed, the poll shows that Wagner has 80 percent name ID, but only fifteen percent of respondents view her "very favorably." A full 39 percent said they view her unfavorably.

VanOstran obviously lacks her name recognition at this point, though he'll be gunning hard in the coming months to change that. He's got 32 percent name ID, and just seven percent view him unfavorably — surely, he plans to pick off a lot of her voters.

He'll likely be aided by what's going on nationally. The poll shows that 54 percent of those surveyed view President Trump unfavorably, with 47 percent strongly disapproving. As the pollsters conclude, "President Trump is a significant political drag on Congresswoman Wagner in this suburban district, just as he is in several other similar districts nationwide. Wagner’s problems are compounded by her own weak political standing, which is comparable to that of President Trump."

Last time around, Wagner beat Democrat Bill Otto with 58.5 percent of the vote. Could VanOstran upset her this fall? Certainly if anything remotely resembling a blue wave sweeps through St. Louis County, Wagner should have reason to worry.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com