Missouri 2008 Election Post-Mortem

Well, the State of Missouri has finally been called for McCain (Woo hoo!), so I figured I’d write a statewide election results diary. There’s some good, some not so good, but overall, Republicans came out alright in the Show-Me-State this year. Because of Missouri’s similarities to the nation as a whole in terms of demographics and rural/urban mix, the state is always an interesting case study.

President: As stated above, Missouri has went to McCain after two weeks of vote counting. McCain ended up winning by about 4,000 votes and this marks only the second time in 100 years or so that Missouri has not went with the winner. When phone-banking for Hulshof and McCain, I and the other volunteers kept saying to each other that if we can just get McCain to win Missouri, he’ll win the presidency, because Missouri is always right. Well, that turned out to be untrue this year, but I for one am glad – on behalf of the Missouri GOP team – that we will be delivering our 11 electoral votes to Sarah Palin and that old guy.

Governor: Jay Nixon (D) easily defeats Kenny Hulshof (R), 58% to 39%. This is a pickup for the Dems. Matt Blunt, the incumbent Republican (and son of U.S. Rep Roy Blunt), surprised everyone by opting not to run for re-election. This put the Republicans at a big disadvantage, given Jay Nixon’s big name recognition and massive campaign war chest.

Lt. Governor: Incumbent Republican Peter Kinder hangs on to win re-election against Anesthesiologist and State Senator Sam Page. My father actually used to support Page back in the day because he was in favor of tort reform, however he quit after Page’s militant pro-abortion views became evident. Anyway, this is the only statewide race that Republicans managed to win this year, except for McCain.

Secretary of State: Democrat incumbent Robin Carnahan wins re-election in a landslide against token Republican opposition. We really need to start contesting these Secretary of State races. We now see how important they are. Here in Missouri, Robin Carnahan got an anti-eminent domain amendment thrown off the ballot.

Attorney General: Kansas City Republican-turned-Democrat Chris Koster defeats Kirkwood-area State Senator Mike Gibbons (R) in a relatively close race. Gibbons is a great guy, but was hobbled by the fact that he has never tried a case in his life. Koster hammered him on that and I think they were (justifiably) effective.

Treasurer: Democrat Clint Zweifel narrowly defeats Republican Brad Lager.

U.S. House, District 1: William Lacy Clay Jr. wins re-election. This district encompasses much of the inner city of St. Louis, as well as north St. Louis County. It is No Republican even filed in this D +26 district. He faced token opposition by a Liberatrian party candidate. This is a safe Democrat district in perpetuity.

U.S. House, District 2: Todd Akin (R) cruises to re-election over goofball Bill Haas (D). This district includes many very wealthy areas of west St. Louis county, as well as the “ex-urbs” of St. Charles, O’Fallon, & St. Peters. Todd Akin keeps a low profile, but he is one of the finest people in all of congress. He has a son serving in Iraq, and is one of the most conservative members of the Republican caucus. This heavily Republican district is safe as long as Akin continues to run, and should be reliably Republican with a halfway competent candidate. Akin typically wins by 15% to 20%.

U.S. House, District 3: Incumbent Russ Carnahan (D) defeats Chris Sander (R), 66%-30%. Dick Gephardt used to hold this district. This district consists of the south St. Louis city, and some southern suburbs and rural areas. While the suburbs and rural areas vote Republican, the lion’s share of the votes are in the south city area, which is ethnic and heavily union. I would call these people “old Democrats”, not lefties. They tend to be more culturally conservative, yet liberal on economic policy. The district is has a CPVI of D +8. Carnahan probably keeps this seat indefinitely barring unusual circumstances.

U.S. House, District 4: Incumbent Ike Skelton (D) cruises to re-election over Jeff Parnell (R). Skelton is a blue-dog Democrat who is culturally conservative, and generally votes with Bush on Iraq and the WoT, but leans left on economics. The 4th is a primarily rural district that stretches from the southern and eastern Kansas City ex-urbs all the way out to Jefferson City in the middle of the state. It also includes a large amount of rural areas between Jeff City, Kansas City, and on down south toward Springfield. This district is the second most most Republican district in the state, with a CPVI of R +11. Ike Skelton has been here for decades, and will continue to hold the seat as long as he runs, but a Republican could easily take this seat in the event he retires. He’s almost 77, FYI.

U.S. House, District 5: Incumbent Democrat Emanuel Cleaver cruises to re-election by over 30 pts. The CPVI of the 5th is D +12 and consists of Kansas City proper and parts of the southern and eastern suburbs. Safe Democrat.

U.S. House, District 6: Early on, incumbent Republican Sam Graves was thought to be in trouble. The DCCC targeted this race, but in the end, Graves crushed former Kansas City mayor Kay Barnes, 59% to 36%. This district has a CPVI of R +5 and encompasses northwest Missouri, which includes some northern Kansas City suburbs as well as the rural communities of St. Joseph, Chillicothe, and Maryville. If Graves couldn’t be knocked off this year against a well-known, well-funded challenger, he’s probably safe as long as he’s there, barring an unusual event. Safe Republican as long as Graves is there, and Likely Republican for the forseeable future.

U.S. House, District 7: Former Minority Whip Roy Blunt cruises to re-election. The 7th has a CPVI of R +14 and encompasses southwest Missouri, which includes Springfield and the surrounding areas, as well as Joplin, Neosho, and Carthage to the west. Blunt typically faces nothing more than token opposition. In 2006 he was opposed in the primary by transvestite and Code-pink member Midge Potts. He/she ran again this year as a write-in and garned 49 votes. I wonder how long Blunt is going to hang on here. I’m not really worried, as any Republican should keep this seat, however given that he has stepped down from the leadership, I wonder how long he is going to stay in the house. Safe Republican.

U.S. House, District 8: Incumbent Republican Jo Ann Emerson cruised to re-election facing nothing more than token opposition. Despite coming from a heavily Republican district (R +11), Emerson is one of the more liberal Republicans in the caucus. She is solid on social issues, but leans left on economics and was one of the few Republicans in the house to vote to cut off funding for Iraq. She needs to be primaried, IMO, however no one is on the horizon to do that. This is a “good ole’ boy” district and Emerson is both well-know and well-liked. The 8th includes all of southeast Missouri, including Rush Limbaugh’s hometown of Cape Girardeau, Sikeston, Farmington, & Poplar Bluff. It is almost completely rural. Her late husband, Bill Emerson, represented the district for years before he passed away. Safe Republican.

U.S. House, District 9: Blaine Leutkemeyer (R) defeats Judy Baker (D) to retain an open seat for the GOP. This is the seat Kenny Hulshof vacated to run for governor. The DCCC targeted this district as well, but in the end Luetkemeyer wins, 50% to 47%. This district is R +7, so that margin is a bit low, but I think it reflects the fact that it was an open seat in a bad year for Republicans. Baker had national cash flowing in as well. I don’t think Luetkemeyer should have any problem holding this seat, and that’s good, for he is a solid conservative who had a good record in the state house. This district includes Columbia, and all of northeast Missouri, including Kirksville, the northern exurbs of St. Louis, and the hometown of Mark Twain, Hannibal. Likely Republican.

Missouri State House: In the Missouri house, the Democrats won four Republican-held seats, and the Republicans won one Democrat-held seat, giving the Democrats a pickup of 3, giving the Republicans an 89-72 majority. This should be considered a win for the Missouri GOP given that many pundits predicted that the Dems would retake the MO-House or come close.

Missouri State Senate: In perhaps the brightest spot for the Missouri GOP, they picked up 3 seats in the State Senate, including a big upset win by young attorney Kirk Schaeffer (R) over Chuck Graham (D) of Columbia. The Republicans now hold a near veto-proof majority in state senate.

All in all, I think the Missouri GOP has to be happy with these results, in a difficult year for Republicans. It was disappointing to lost the statehouse, but with comfortable majorities in the General Assembly, the GOP should be able control much of the agenda in Jeff City.