The Missouri race for U.S. Senate has become more competitive than it was thought to be just days ago.
Two Washington based groups which analyze campaigns and elections have moved the contest into a “toss-up” category after previously favoring Republican incumbent Roy Blunt.
While announcing its change Friday, the Cook Political Report noted the race between Blunt and Democratic challenger Jason Kander has now become one of the most closely contested in the country.
Nathan Gonzales with the Rothenberg and Gonzales Political Report goes even further, contending Blunt is in the fight of his life right now. “I was reluctant on how vulnerable Senator Blunt was, considering that I believe Donald Trump is going to win the state of Missouri in the presidential race” said Gonzales. “But it looks like Senator Blunt is actually under performing Donald Trump. And that’s why he could lose reelection, even if Trump wins the state’s electoral votes.”
Gonzales has moved the Senate contest from “Lean Republican” to “Toss-Up” with a Republican tilt. Different polls from last month show both candidates with a lead while surveys consistently have Republican Donald Trump ahead in the presidential race.
Gonzales says the tightness of the contest is reflected in the flood of outside money coming in. “Right now we’re seeing an influx of cash coming going into Missouri, both to go after Senator Blunt and to try to defend him. I think that’s an indication that both sides believe that this is a very serious race.”
He further thinks Blunts 20 years as a Congressman or Senator aren’t helping his cause in an election where many voters want to change. “Right now it’s no surprise that politicians aren’t popular” said Gonzales. “And when you have a lot of politics on your resume, that gives someone like Jason Kander and the Democrats something to go after.”
A recent story in the political news magazine National Journal cited “red state Missouri” as a bright spot for Democrats this year, saying “Blunt’s biggest problem is that he is a dated symbol of the GOP establishment at a time when voters are looking for fresher faces.”
Kander himself touched on the theme in a debate sponsored by the Missouri Press Association last Friday, arguing for a “generational” change in the state’s representation in Washington .
Gonzales thinks Blunt’s resume full of political experience and family full of lobbyists is not popular with voters right now. The National Review reported Blunt’s own internal polling shows him leading Kander by only one point.
Gonzales says Missouri is replacing Florida as one of the top states to decide which party will control the Senate in 2017.