Missouri Democrats wake up to stark new reality
ST. LOUIS – By February, State Auditor Nicole Galloway will soon be the highest-ranked Democratic statewide elected official in Missouri, not including U.S. Senate seats.
That will be because she will be the only Democratic statewide elected official in Missouri.
Republicans pulled off a clean sweep of their statewide candidates, no doubt assisted by a massive Donald Trump surge as he won by just over 19 points in the Show Me State on his way to the presidency.
Most Republicans running for statewide office had strong indications they would win before ballots were cast Tuesday. However, the margins by which some of them won were nothing short of resounding.
Governor-elect Eric Greitens again far exceeded initial expectations of his second race, running roughshod over early favorite Attorney General Chris Koster beating him by a healthy 6-point margin.
Aside from U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt’s 3-point victory over outgoing Secretary of State Jason Kander for Blunt’s Senate seat, Greitens ended up facing the closest race of the night.
Lt. Governor-elect Mike Parson, whose contest against former Congressman Russ Carnahan was also billed as one of the closer races of the statewide candidates, won handily by almost 11 percent. Missouri’s incoming Secretary of State, Treasurer and Attorney General (Jay Ashcroft, Eric Schmitt and Josh Hawley, respectively) won 57-38, 56-39, and 58-41 percent (also respectively).
Even as the margins shocked many around the state, Missouri Republican Party Chair John Hancock said he was not surprised by the final tally.
“I expected this would happen,” he said early Wednesday morning. “It happened because we have better candidates, and our candidates were and are exceptional and I’m so excited for the people of Missouri to have this kind of leadership for the next four years and beyond.”
Trump’s results in the state show exactly how strong the Republican base came out to support him. He won every county outside of Jackson, Boone, St. Louis Counties and St. Louis City – by double digits. Rural, white voters across the nation, even in usually-blue Rust Belt states, came out in huge margins for Trump, and Missouri was no exception. Most Republican statewide candidates got to ride that wave all the way to shore for what turned out to be easy wins.
Clinton also failed considerably in the state to connect to her usual coalition of voters that would have most assisted her in Missouri. As Dentons noted in their post-election analysis, she “consistently underperformed President Obama’s strength with his winning coalition of college educated women, minorities, and young voters.”
“While Clinton bested Trump by 13 points among women, this margin was no better than Obama’s margin in 2008 or 2012 among this same group,” the report read. “Trump, on the other hand, logged support from 70 percent of white men without a college education, besting Mitt Romney’s showing by 10 points.”
Their full election analysis can be read below.
There are a few bright spots for the Dems, two of the closer Senate district races managed to remain blue. Sen. Scott Sifton and Senator-Elect John Rizzo both managed to survive the Trump surge.
Sifton topped Dr. Randy Jotte in SD 1 in South St. Louis County 53 percent to 47 percent, and Rizzo won over David Humphreys-funded Brent Lasater 52.1 percent to 47.8 percent.
However, the party make-up of the upper chamber went unchanged as Republican Senator-Elect Caleb Rowden pulled off a come-from-behind victory over Rep. Stephen Webber in SD 19 in Columbia. Rowden defended the seat currently held by outgoing Republican Sen. Kurt Schaefer 51.2 percent to 48.7 percent and by a margin of just over 2,100 votes.
Those two Democratic victories do little to prop up what was undoubtedly an overwhelming night of loss for the party. Republicans in the House and Senate both retained veto-proof supermajorities, meaning Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon has helplessly watched as his vetoes have been overturned on all but a few key issues. With a Republican in the Governor’s Mansion for the first time since former Gov. Matt Blunt left in 2009, labor-opposed bills like Right-to-Work and paycheck protection will likely pass within the first few months of the Greitens administration.
Hancock sees the victory more as an opportunity to promote strong businesses and increase the state government’s focus on creating jobs, citing Missouri’s lagging economic numbers. He said Republicans could “get the state working again.”
“I think there’s an economic revival that can come to Missouri now led by Republicans who understand the principles of sound market economies, and I think you can see Missouri become one of the economic drivers of the nation.”