It’s after Labor Day, and the campaigns are heating up. I visited with two friends, who share respect in the community, integrity and political acumen, and who prefer different political parties.
Both see the local races playing out as the partisan leanings of their districts dictate. Incumbents should win and, as is always the case, some very able candidates such as Kelly Schultz a few years ago and Mikaela Skelton in the 50th house district this year won’t be able to overcome the conservative tilt of their districts.
The consensus is that all Missouri’s congressmen will be reelected without much strain. Renee Hogenson can claim a moral victory if she gets within ten points of Rep. Hartzler in the Fourth.
There are only two statewide races. Local fave Nicole Galloway is the beneficiary of another GOP primary nightmare, wherein the female won a plurality in a four-person race. The nominee has serious personal financial issues that are well-documented. This is a candidate for auditor? Galloway’s ads write themselves. Both of my friends agree she should win and be an obvious candidate for governor in 2020.
The Senate race has been a margin-of-error contest from the beginning. It may not be the most expensive Senate contest in the country – that prize will go to Florida, where the Republican candidate Rick Scott will spend a lot of his considerable personal fortune in an attempt to capture a Democratic seat – but it will attract the most money from outside the state. McCaskill has been lucky twice before but her approval rating is under water – not a good thing for an incumbent in a state trending against her party. No one, including yours truly, is ready to call this race.
We kicked around the notion of a Blue Wave versus a Blue Trickle. Both believe Democrats will do okay in Missouri, picking up six to eight state house seats, but all that will do is move Democrats out of superminority status. They are a long way from taking back the House and Senate. The Mississippi River will be a breakwater for any westward-flowing national Democratic wave.
Both believe Democrats will do better nationally than in Missouri. The Republican feels Democrats will take the U.S. House; the Democrat is not so sure, partly because he lives every day what I observed at a recent Democratic fundraiser: Democrats are still in shock from 2016, are leaderless, and don’t have a coherent message other than “We’re not the party of Trump.”
Meanwhile Trump’s support remains steadfast and the establishment GOP is missing in action. All the chatter about Bob Woodward’s new book is Inside-the-Beltway stuff and will not change a single vote in November.
November will be, as every election is, about turnout. If Democrats get their act together on their message and their get-out-the-vote plan, they’ll do pretty well and take the House and some governorships. But President Trump will still be in the White House, tweeting away, emasculating a major political party, and daily reinventing the presidency.
Terry Smith is a political science professor at Columbia College and a regular commentator on KBIA's Talking Politics