The Midterms: Missouri

Before we get the marquee race for the Senate in Missouri this year, there are two Congressional races that need mentioning.  The first is in the St. Louis-based First District where Democratic incumbent defeated Cori Bush, Missouri’s answer to Allie from the Bronx Ocasio-Cortez who was backed by the aforementioned Bronx bug-eyed nut case and Bernie Sanders.  This writer loves when liberals eat their own, but alas even Missouri’s liberals rejected outright socialism.

The other race is in the neighboring Second District which encompasses the St. Louis suburbs.  This seat is held by Republican Ann Wagner and for some reason, some Democrats believe they have a chance here.  Actually, the reason is the District dropped from 57% support for Romney in 2012 to 53% for Trump in 2016.  However, the fact that no major groups are investing her indicates the Democrats have realized the error of their ways (or hopes).

Now for that all important Senate race pitting Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill against Republican Josh Hawley.  The Democrats entered these midterms realizing that McCaskill was one of their most vulnerable incumbents.  She dodged a bullet six years ago when her opponent, Todd Akin, developed a case of foot-in-mouth disease.  It should also be noted that a little bit of Democratic Party meddling in GOP politics in Missouri that year gave McCaskill what many at the time believed her most beatable candidate.  It succeeded six years ago, but not this year.

Outside money and groups have been inundating the airwaves with relentless attacks on McCaskill.  She is being attacked on everything from her wealth accumulation while a Senator, to fake RV tours of the state (she used a private jet), her husband’s Cayman Island investments, opposing the Trump tax cuts and opposing judicial nominees.

All of this has had the effect of McCaskill playing a game of defense and explanation.  She has two things going for her: her alleged battle against pharmaceutical companies and the ultimate lie being bandied about with impunity this year by the Democrats:  the big bad Republicans are coming after healthcare coverage for pre-existing conditions.  Virtually every Republican has vowed that this aspect of Obamacare is going nowhere especially since it was Republicans who originally pushed the idea.

On the defense, McCaskill claims she has voted for 76% of Trump’s judicial nominees (which is easy to say when the Senate is taking voice votes by agreement).   When you have to run 1-minute commercials explaining that your wealth was accumulated before you entered the Senate or coming up with totally bogus excuses for using a private jet and not that RV you claimed, you know the GOP is being serious in this race.  As for those attacks on Hawley and pre-existing conditions, the Democrats are stating the fact that as state attorney general he joined other peers in a lawsuit to have Obamacare overturned, it is proof that those with pre-existing conditions are as good as dead with a Republican-controlled Congress.  Most interesting, in these #MeToo days, McCaskill’s campaign fails to mention that Hawley led an investigation that led to the discovery of untested rape kits of actual rapes- not allegations of rape or groping by teen-aged high school students in the 1980’s.

Most recently, Hawley has gone on the attack over McCaskill’s failure to support the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.  He is portraying her as being a stooge of Chuck Schumer (aren’t all Democrats?).

Donald Trump carried Missouri by 18 points in 2016.  He remains fairly popular here today.  Hence, it is no surprise that McCaskill has not invoked the name of Donald Trump that often and tried to link Hawley to Trump.  This is a state that is relatively well polled by a variety of outlets.  Overall, Hawley leads by less than a point.  However, pre-Kavanaugh, he trailed by 0.3%.  Post-Kavanaugh, he is up by 2.3 points.

This writer would feel a tad more comfortable if Hawley could get up to that 3 point advantage or better and he seems to be heading that way.  Given McCaskill’s not-so-great upside down approval/disapproval rating, all that money pumped into the race by the Democrats may be for naught.

Perhaps her only hope at this point is to sneak and slink back into the Senate as a non-consensus candidate.    The presence of a Libertarian candidate and Green Party candidate taking about 8% of the vote collectively eats into Hawley’s lead when they are factored in.  However, when factored in, the best McCaskill can do is forge a tie.  The Ron Paul and Ralph Nader contingent will be a blip on the radar, this writer predicts.

I MAY revisit this one between now and the end of this series, but for now, I am calling this one for the GOP.  Sorry, McCaskill… now you can retire and enjoy some of those millions you have to defend.

As of the end of this entry:

US Senate 34-26 Republican, US House 92-66 House, and Governors 20-10 Republican.

Tomorrow:  North Dakota