Is the lead that Nixon holds such a large advantage --- or that Hulshof holds a lead but still could be defeated by the insurgent Steelman just a few weeks before the primary?
The Hulshof-Steelman is definitely the more complicated storyline (and maybe that's why we like it.)
But political correspondent, former News-Leader editorial page editor and former beer 'n bloggin' buddy Tony Messenger responded to defend his paper's decision. Here is what he wrote me:
"As it relates to the poll, we let the numbers tell the story. We talked about leading with the primary results, but the Nixon numbers were the strongest in the poll, especially considering his increasing favorables at a time in which he hasn't been advertising. The high number of undecideds and the fairly low sample as it relates to the primary voters made it tough to make a strong call on the Republican side of the race. Is it more significant that Hulshof has a statewide lead or that Steelman is winning in GOP-rich southwest Missouri? What was clear is that either candidate faces an uphill battle against Nixon, and that makes for a very unique election, since Nixon is a challenger who seems to be running almost as an incumbent in some ways. I think the presidential race comparison is unfair because you're talking generally about national polls that are mostly focused on that race (Obama vs. Clinton, for instance) with much larger samples."