Diary

2018 Midterms- The Midwest About a Year Out

Today I look at races in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

IOWA

  • 4 districts- 3 Republican/1 Democratic
  • Incumbents facing primary challenger- none
  • Incumbents facing opposition party challenger- all 4
  • Senate race- none this year

Three of four Iowa Congressional districts are held by Republicans.  In all three, no incumbent currently faces a primary challenger.  However, in all three, potential Democratic opponents have emerged.  In two of those three, at least three Democrats are chomping at the bits to take on the GOP incumbent.

The most likely target for the Democrats is the 1st District and then the 3rd which might prove much harder to crack.  Cook rates the 1st +5 Democratic and being held by a Republican, it makes sense that this would be the most vulnerable.  However, the incumbent in 2016 won by 8 points in a state Trump won.  Rod Blum will not have that luxury in 2018.  The Third is rated even by Cook, although I have it slightly Democratic.  Both are races to watch.

But most surprisingly, the 4th has attracted three Democratic wannabes.  This is the most conservative district in Iowa, so it seem foolish to send so many Democrats scrambling to have the opportunity to lose.

KANSAS

  • 4 districts- all Republican
  • 1 open race- Lynn Jenkins (R) in the 2nd is retiring
  • Candidates in open race- 2 Republicans/ 2 Democrats
  • Incumbents facing primary challenge- none
  • Incumbents facing opposition party challenge- 2
  • Senate race- none this year

While Democrats and progressives wonder what’s the matter with Kansas, the answer is simple:  they’re smart.  All four districts are held by Republicans although the 2nd will be an open race due to retirement.

In the 1st, there is speculation that former Congressman Tim Huelskamp may mount a primary challenge to get his old job back, although nothing is official yet.  If there is a weak link, it is the 3rd District which has attracted a crowded Democratic primary with five declared candidates.

If a Democrat wins the open seat and/or takes the 3rd District, the GOP could potentially be in for a long night in 2018.  At this point, this writer is not about to go there and is predicting that the GOP will retain all four seats..

MISSOURI

  • 8 districts- 6 Republicans/ 2 Democrats
  • Incumbents facing primary challengers- 3 (2 GOP/ 1 Democrat)
  • Incumbents facing opposition party challenge- 5 GOP/ 1 Democrat
  • Senate race- Claire McCaskill (D)- 1 primary challenger/ 4 Republicans

Ann Wagner in the 3rd has drawn four potential Democrats to fight it out among themselves.  Only Emmanuel Cleaver in the 5th- one of two Democrats- has drawn a GOP opponent so far.

One supposes that if one was a Democrat in Missouri, the Third would be the obvious target.  Still, it seems like a long shot and at this point I would have to say there will be no changes.

Claire McCaskill is the Democratic incumbent Senator up for reelection.  The beneficiary of Todd Akin foot-in-mouth disease in 2012, she faces not only a primary challenge, but four Republicans have thrown their fortunes into this race.  McCaskill has a relatively good 47% approval rating in a state that gives Trump a 49% approval rating.  This will be one of the most-watched races in 2018 and a great chance for the GOP to pick up a seat if they have the right candidate with the right message.

NEBRASKA

  • 3 districts- all Republican
  • Incumbents facing primary challenger- 1
  • Incumbents facing opposition party challenger- 2
  • Senate race- Deb Fischer (R)- no primary challenger/ 1 declared Democrat

The most vulnerable to a GOP loss is the 2nd and this writer would not be surprised if the Democrats take this seat.  This is one of those states where Trump’s approval rating exceeds 50% (52%), but for Nebraska, this is the best bet for the Democrats.

Republican incumbent Deb Fischer faces reelection.  Thus far, she has drawn no primary challengers and 1 Democrat has entered the fray with good reason: she sports a 56% approval rating in the state.

OKLAHOMA

  • 5 districts- all Republican
  • 1 open race- Jim Bridenstine (R) in the 1st is retiring
  • Candidates in open race- 5 Republicans/ no Democrats
  • Incumbents facing primary challenge- 1 (Markwayne Mullin in the 2nd)
  • Incumbents facing opposition party challenge- 1
  • Senate race- none this year

 Things are so bad in Oklahoma for the Democrats that in only one district is their declared candidate- in the 5th which is one of the most conservative districts in the state.

Next: The Upper Midwest.