The tightness of the Missouri race for U.S. Senate is drawing the attention of national analysts.
A Mason-Dixon Poll conducted in late July showed incumbent Republican Roy Blunt with a narrow four point edge over Democrat Jason Kander. Blunt’s lead was within the survey’s margin of error.
Nathan Gonzales with the Rothenburg and Gonzales Political Report thinks Kander’s showing strength in the early going. “We moved the (senate) race out of our safe (Republican) category to a more competitive category at some point last year, in part because of Jason Kander. I think Jason Kander gets good reviews as a candidate, for his initial fund raising. And I know Democrats are ecstatic that he’s running.”
The race is close enough that a Republican outside group has spent $2 million to defend Blunt. Gonzales thinks Democrats won’t pour money into the Missouri contest until the party locks-up close races in other states. “If they sort of put those races away early, then that could free-up some money to spend in second and third tier opportunities such as Missouri.”
Gonzales contends Presidential nominee Donald Trump is the wild card in the fall election, and could be a drain on fellow Republicans, including Blunt. “He brings so much baggage to the race” said Gonzales. “He’s really becoming a distraction for Republican candidates. I’m sure Blunt and his colleagues have a set of issue that they want to talk about, that they want the campaign to be about. But Donald Trump takes up so much of the news that they’re often forced to be on the defensive.”
Although he says Missouri as a whole still has a Republican tinge to it, Gonzales thinks Blunt Blunt could be hurt by voters’ distaste for Trump. “I think Roy Blunt should plan on needing some ticket splitters, or needing some people who aren’t supporting the Republican presidential nominee, to turn around and vote for him.”
Democrats are eyeing the close Missouri Senate race because they can take control of the chamber by gaining five seats currently held by Republicans.
A poll released last week by Remington Research Group showed Blunt with a seven point lead over Kander. That’s a three point swing in the Republican’s favor from the previous Mason-Dixon survey. Remington Research Group is owned by Jeff Roe, a Republican political consultant and strategist who helped manage the presidential campaign of Ted Cruz.