Oct. 30 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump will stop in Missouri twice before Election Day, campaigning for the Republican challenger in the state's tight Senate race.
Polls have generally indicated the race between Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, and the GOP's Josh Hawley is a toss-up.
"The best evidence shows is it a very tight race," said Peverill Squire, a political science professor at the University of Missouri. "Neither candidate has enjoyed much of a lead."
This is somewhat surprising because Missouri leans strongly Republican. Trump won the state by 19 points in 2016.
McCaskill defied the odds when she won the Senate seat in 2012, in part thanks to mistakes her opponent, Todd Akin, made during his campaign, Squire said. Her opponent in this election has made no such errors, he added.
The Missouri race has received national attention because of its part in the Democrats' bid to gain control of the Senate. For Democrats to win the majority, they must retain all their current seats, plus win several held by the GOP.
If McCaskill loses Nov. 6, "it would be a major blow" to the Democrats, Squire said.
"Winning the majority will be very difficult if they don't keep the seats they have," he said.
McCaskill's campaign raised more than three times Hawley's haul. The senator brought in $35.3 million compared with Hawley's $10.2 million.
McCaskill used that money to run multiple ads in which she tries to bill herself as a moderate Democrat. A recent radio ad said she was "not one of those crazy Democrats," according to CNN.
As a senator, McCaskill has deviated from her party on such topics as government spending, energy and immigration. According to her campaign, she bucked her party by supporting caps on discretionary government spending. She advocates protection of "coal-dependent states" like Missouri in any effort to curb global warming, and supports the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. She also favors increasing border security.
However, she joins Democrats in supporting the DREAM Act, which would offer a path to citizenship for undocumented children brought to the United States by their parents. She supports abortion rights and the Affordable Care Act, consistently voting against its appeal.
By contrast, as attorney general, Hawley joined a number of other states in suing to have parts of the ACA repealed.
Hawley describes himself as a "constitutional conservative," according to his campaign. He supports religious liberty. He was one of the lead attorneys in the "Hobby Lobby case," in which company sued over a federal requirement that an employer's health plan pay for its employees' contraceptives.
The attorney general has also repeatedly stated his support for Trump and his policies.
The president will stump for the Hawley at a rally in Columbia, Miss., on Thursday. He will return for a final rally Monday in Cape Girardeau.
In the week leading up to the election, Trump will also make appearances in other states with tight Senate races, including Florida, West Virginia, Indiana, Montana, Georgia and Ohio.