With no contested statewide races up next week, the key question in the general election is whether Republicans can maintain their state legislative supermajorities.

Majority Floor Leader John Diehl (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

The likely next Speaker of the Missouri House, John Diehl, hopes to lead a Supermajority of Republicans in that chamber for the next two years.  (Photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Republicans hold enough seats in each chamber to overturn a governor’s veto without any help from Democrats, but losing just two seats could make a big difference according to University of Missouri Political Science Professor Peverill Squire.

“If they lose that leverage then it puts them in a position where they have to deal more with the governor and take his preferences into some account,” Squire explains.

So, says Squire, holding that supermajority means wielding a great deal of political power.

“We saw in this last session of the General Assembly that when the Republicans have a supermajority and they have cohesion among their members, they can achieve most of their policy goals and that’s a fairly dramatic change from sort of the normal course of events,” says Squire.

Whether that supermajority will last could come down to races in as few as two districts.

“It could tip one way or the other based a turnout of relatively a few voters,” says Squire.

The professor says Missouri Democrats are focusing campaign dollars on select races hoping to break that supermajority. That includes Governor Jay Nixon, who has contributed $75,000.

Squire says the outcome of the House races has particular significance for Nixon.

“A governor who is a lame duck – he can’t run for re-election – is already in a weak position,” says Squire. “The prospect for Jay Nixon is if he’s facing a supermajority once again for his final two years, it really makes him less relevant than he would normally be.”

Squire believes Republicans are unlikely to lose their supermajority in the state Senate, and the GOP is focused not just on holding legislative supermajorities, but growing them.