The election last week left the leaders of the House and the Senate effectively the most powerful Republicans in the state. Their party lost all the statewide races except the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, but gained enough seats in the House that in both chambers the GOP could overturn a governor’s veto without a single Democrat vote.
House Speaker Tim Jones (R-Eureka) considers what his party must do it if wants to succeed in future elections. He says first, it must look closely at where it did and didn’t fare well in the 2012 cycle.
“I don’t think either party can say they’ve got control everywhere or their agenda is everywhere. The nation is truly a 50/50 nation and whoever has the best message on the margins is where they pick up. That being said, Republicans need to look at the places where they’ve had success and they need to incorporate that into a national message.”
Jones says when one looks at the election on a county-by-county basis, much of the nation broke down as it did in Missouri.
“There’s a supermajority swath of Republican voters throughout the middle … and most of the state, actually … and then you have in the inner urban core is where your blue areas are, and it’s very similar to the country as a whole.”
He points out, more races at the state government level went to the GOP.
“Republicans … have a majority of the governorships … in addition, more state legislatures than ever before are Republican. So it’s interesting to note that in the elections that are closest to the people: the legislatures, the governors, Republicans have the edge.”
Jones says the impact of Todd Akin on the Missouri electorate in the recently completed election cycle can not be understated.
“We saw it in our polling … Missouri went overwhelmingly for Governor Romney, but then you saw a 10 point positive … over a 10 point positive for Governor Romney and then in many areas you saw a 10 point or more negative for Todd Akin. That is a 20 point plus swing. That is dramatic. You can not honestly look at that and say, ‘Oh, that’s just an accident,’ or ‘Oh, that doesn’t mean anything.’ It meant a great deal.”
He says of Akin’s comments that a woman’s body can shut down a pregnancy when she is raped, “If the comments hadn’t been made, if that had not been the focus of the election … which it really was, from beginning to end. You just kept hearing those comments being replayed both in campaign literature, driven heavily by the media … I think we would have had a very different election night here in Missouri. I think there would have been longer coattails and more of (the GOP’s) statewide contenders would have been successful.”