A political expert thinks the current Republican lock on Missouri is more fragile than in neighboring deep red states.
As a result of the election, the GOP will control all but one statewide office in January, and Donald Trump won Missouri by 19 points.
But Columbia College Political Scientist Terry Smith contends the Republican coalition under Trump could unravel over issues such as trade and federal spending. Trump has vowed to back out of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement, which most Republican support as advocates of free trade. Trump has also promised to invest heavily in infrastructure to rebuild bridges and highways as well as airports, something fiscally conservative Republicans are resistant to.
Smith thinks Democrats in Missouri could benefit if a GOP split occurs. “It wouldn’t take much for them to start winning statewide offices again” said Smith. “As recently as four years ago, they won most of them.” Smith says even through it was a wave election for Republicans, the statewide vote was fairly even because of the heavy concentration of Democrats in large urban areas.
He also contends the urban-rural split in Missouri fundamentally separates it from other Republican dominated states. Smith thinks the Republican grip on Missouri can be loosened by the Democratic domination of St. Louis and Kansas City. “The fact that Missouri has two big cities matters electorally. And I think that that would be a reason that Democrats could still have hope (in the future) at the statewide level.”
Missouri also differs from neighboring Republican controlled states in that it has several Democrats in Congress. Although she could be endangered in her reelection bid in 2018, Senator Claire McCaskill remains a two term Democrat from Missouri, while adjoining southern states along with neighboring Kansas have Republicans occupying U.S. both Senate seats.
As well, Democrats from Kansas City and St. Louis occupy safe congressional districts. Democratic congressional strongholds in the other states is spotty, where they even exists.
Smith thinks Missouri uniquely different the surrounding deep red state in another way – the electoral map. “Given the electoral map, it’s more like a red state with blue polka dots. You’ve got the two big polka dots in St. Louis and Kansas City. And then you’ve got the third polka dot in the middle.” Smith was referring to Democratic leaning Boone County, home to the University of Missouri, as the third polka dot.