This article presents an unbiased comparison of the political positions and policies of Dave Spence and Jay Nixon, the Republican and Democratic party candidates respectively for the 2012 gubernatorial elections in Missouri. Jay Nixon is the incumbent governor.

Comparison chart

Dave Spence versus Jay Nixon comparison chart
Edit this comparison chartDave SpenceJay Nixon
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(52 ratings)
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(42 ratings)
Dave SpenceJay Nixon
Abortion Opposes abortion Pro-choice. Did not defend partial-birth abortion ban as Missouri's Attorney General.
Education Supports increased funding. Opposes NCLB. Supports increased federal funding.
Gay Rights Opposes gay marriage Opposes gay marriage
Tax Policy Opposes increases in taxes. Wants to eliminate tax credits. Eliminated franchise tax. Will eliminate tax credits that do not provide good return on investment. Supported the largest tax increase in Missouri history as State Senator.
Healthcare Opposes Obamacare Supported Obamacare
Date of birth 1958 February 13th 1956
Hometown Overland, Missouri De Soto, Missouri
Gun Control Opposes gun control Supports prohibition of semi-automatic weapons. Opposes concealed carry.
Religion Catholic Methodist
Death Penalty Supports the death penalty Supports increasing its use to include drug traffickers
Political Party Republican Democrat
Energy Policy Opposes EPA restrictions on coal plants. Aims to build more plants and increase the extraction of natural gases in the state Supports alternative energy sources, particularly nuclear power
College Education Attended Mizzou. Earned a degree in home economics. Lied about said degree, claimed it was 'economics' degree. Attend Mizzou. Earned law and political science degrees.

Early Life and Career

Dave Spence grew up in Overland, Missouri and graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1981 with a degree in home economics. He later lied about this to reporters and voters, claiming until 2012 that he'd actually received a degree in 'economics' from the University.

In 1985, he bought a small plastics manufacturing business, Alpha Packaging, and worked as its chief executive until he decided to run for governor in 2012.

Jay Nixon was born in De Soto, St. Louis. He earned his BA and JD from the University of Missouri. He became Attorney General in 1992 and remained in the position until 2009, when he became the governor of Missouri.

Differences in Economic Policy

Tax Policy

Dave Spence aims to prevent raises in taxes in the future by ensuring that any measure will require at least two-thirds support from the legislature to be added to the ballot. He wants to improve the tax system to make it easier for new businesses and aims to eliminate 28 tax credit programs in the state, while setting a cap on all such programs.[1]

Jay Nixon eliminated the franchise tax in 2011. He believes that the government should stop tax credits that do not provide a good return on investment. [2]

Healthcare Policy

Dave Spence opposes Obama’s health care bill (Obamacare).

Jay Nixon supported Obama’s health care bill and is pushing for new laws to ensure that insurance companies cover the diagnosis and treatment of citizens with disabilities such as autism.

Social Issues


Dave Pence opposes abortion and embryonic stem-cell research.

Jay Nixon opposes partial birth abortion.

Gay rights

Dave Pence has not commented on the issue of gay rights.

Jay Nixon opposes gay marriage.

Education Policy

Dave Spence will increase funding to public schools and particularly to programs such as technology training, vocational schools and community colleges. He opposes No Child Left Behind and wishes to expand educational options such as charter schools. [3]

Jay Nixon supports increased federal spending on education and froze tuition at all state colleges and universities for the past two years. [4]

Gun Control

Dave Spence has not commented on the issue of gun control.

Jay Nixon supports the ban of semi-automatic weapons. [5]

Death Penalty

Dave Spence has not commented on the issue of the death penalty.

Jay Nixon wished to expand the use of the death penalty, including for drug traffickers. [6]

Energy Policy

Dave Spence aims to stop EPA restriction on coal-fired electricity plants, build additional clean coal plants in Missouri, and increase the search for natural gas in the state. He opposes Cap and Trade, as he believes it is an energy tax on businesses. [7]

Jay Nixon supports the use of alternative energy sources, including nuclear power, wind, solar and biofuels. [8]


The first debate between Jay Nixon and Dave Spence was held on September 21, 2012. Libertarian Jim Higgins also participated. The full debate video is presented below and highlights are available here.

General Polling

Poll source Date(s) administered Jay Nixon (D) Dave Spence (R)
Public Policy Polling October 1-3, 2012 54% 35%
Survey USA August 9-12, 2012 51% 37%
Chilenski Strategies August 8, 2012 52.7% 38.5%
Mason-Dixon July 23-25, 2012 48% 39%
Public Policy Polling May 24-27, 2012 45% 34%
Public Policy Polling January 27-29, 2012 47% 27%


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