There’s plenty of speculation on how a new probe into Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton emails will affect down ballot elections.
A number of media outlets and political pundits have said the FBI’s announcement it’s reviewing new emails in search of classified information will benefit Republicans in tight elections.
Columbia College Political Scientists Terry Smith doesn’t think the renewed focus will have a large impact in Missouri. “I believe most people who have yet to vote are not going to be persuaded one way or the other by this FBI stuff” said Smith.
He actually thinks too much is being read into the announcement. “Some people want to see this as this dramatic October surprise. The only thing that I think would have an impact in the next week would be if there was something that was like a 10 on the Richter scale revelation from Wikileaks. Otherwise, I think everything’s pretty well baked into the cake.”
Smith is also not convinced national attention being directed on races within the state will have much effect on voters.
The U.S. Senate contest, once considered safe for Republicans, is now being closely followed as a defining race for control of the chamber. The tight governor contest is also under the national spotlight. Smith thinks Missouri voters don’t even notice all the attention. “It’s local” said Smith. “The money matters. The outside money could really matter. I think it’s probably had an impact on the governor’s race. But I think Missourians are pretty insular about their politics.”
Smith thinks Republican Senator Roy Blunt will narrowly win reelection despite being outperformed in Missouri polls by GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. He expects Democrat Chris Koster to prevail in a tight governor’s race.
The most recent polling conducted in the state shows a tightening gubernatorial contest and a too-close-to-call competition for the senate seat.
According to a survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research last Monday through Thursday, Koster has a lead of 1 percentage point over Republican Eric Greitens — 46 to 45 — which is well within the poll’s 4-point margin for error.
Trump leads Democrat Clinton in the presidential contest, 47 percent to 42 percent, with 7 percent undecided. In sharp contrast to national trends, the poll show Blunt, theincumbent Missouri GOP Senator, with only a 1 point advantage over Democrat challenger Jason Kander – 46 to 45 percent.
The last time a sitting Missouri Senator lost an election happened in 2006 when Republican Jim Talent was narrowly defeated by current Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. 2006 was a wave election nationally in favor of Democrats.
If Kander were to be elected this year, it would mark the first time in 40 years the state had two Democrat Senators.
In 1976, four-term Democrat Stuart Symington chose not to seek reelection. The Democratic nominee to replace him, Jerry Litton, died with his wife and two children while traveling in a small plane to the victory party after winning primary. In a new primary after his death, former governor Warren Hearnes won the nomination. He was was defeated in the general election by Republican John Danforth. At the time, the other Senate seat was held by Democrat Thomas Eagleton, who continued to serve in the position until retiring in 1986.
Eagleton is also known for his failed run to become Vice President. He withdrew from Senator George McGovern’s 1972 presidential bid under pressure several months after admitting he’d been hospitalized three times in the 1960s for depression and stress, and that he had undergone electric shock therapy.