The M8B poll

It’s time to assess the outcomes of the August primary and see if we can forecast the results in November.  First, let’s take a look at the legislature and the contests that shape up after the primary.

The Missouri Senate started the 2015-16 session with 25 Republicans and 9 Democrats.

Going into the November election, Democrats are guaranteed six seats. Republicans will have 18.    Five of the ten seats are OPEN because of term limits or resignations.  The Joseph Keaveny seat is likely to stay in the D column, meaning that before the November election, D’s will have 7 seats, R’s will have 18 with nine seats in play.

Two of the nine seats in play are held by or were held by Democrats (Sifton and Levota).  If the D’s hold on to those seats, both in the Kansas City metro area, they will be up to nine.  The Senate then will be 25-9.  If we assume Sifton will win re-election and the Democrats hang onto the vacant LeVota seat, they will need to pick up three Senate seats to end the two-thirds majority.

We are acutely conscious in saying this of one of the first rules hammered into our heads by our School of Journalism professors: “Never assume a damned thing.”  But we have to start somewhere in this discussion so we are offering a technical assumption that is not to be considered part of the public record.

Other open seats:

Senator Eric Schmitt of Glendale in St. Louis County is giving up his distinction of being one of the tallest people to ever serve in the state senate, if not THE tallest (see for a learned discussion of the matter) to run for State Treasurer.  Stephen Eagleton, a Kirkwood activist who lost to Schmitt eight years ago, has won the Democratic primary. He’s a nephew of former U. S. Senator Thomas Eagleton.  He’s opposed by state representative Andrew Koenig, who defeated fellow Rep Rick Stream in the primary. The district has been Republican.

Senator Kurt Schaefer of Columbia didn’t come close to carrying his home county against fellow Boone Countian Josh Hawley in the Attorney General’s race a few weeks ago although his 41% in the county was better than his 36% statewide.  He’s gone from the Senate because of term limits anyway.  Two state representatives will square off to see who succeeds him: Democrat Stephen Webber and Republican Caleb Rowden.  The seat was Democratic before Schaefer took it.

Term limits has robbed Warrensburg-area voters of their chance to keep popular Senator David Pearce for another term.  Lafayette County mediation lawyer ElGene Ver Dught, who lost to Pearce four years ago, is back for another try. He’ll face Republican Representative Denny Hoskins.

Other contested seats (Some senatorial districts have Libertarian candidates opposing a major party candidate but we’ll wait for a Libertarian-label candidate to be more than token opposition before we move districts in which they are the only opposition to make our list of “contested districts.”):

Senator Ryan Silvey, who comes from the northern part of the Kansas City metro area, is facing Democrat J. Ranen Bethtold who has attracted support from Joplin industrialist David Humphreys, who normally pours a lot of money into Republican campaigns. Apparently, Silvey ticked off Humphreys because he refused to support his party’s attempt to override Governor Nixon’s veto of the anti-union bill that would let people be represented by unions without paying them any dues.  Silvey has a lot of labor people in his district but Humphreys is big on right-to-work.

The seat given up by Senate President pro Tem Tom Demsey of St.  Charles when he went to work for a Sinquefield group will be a fight between Bill Eigel, a right-to-work supporter who defeated Representative Anne Zerr in the Republican primary, and Democrat Richard Orr, a right-to-work opponent who thinks Republicans are meddling with the Conservation Department.

Former Congressman Bill Burlison, who represented southeast Missouri for a dozen years, had no challengers in the Democratic primary and will face Republican incumbent Doug Libla.

Senator Wayne Wallingford, a Republican, hopes to win a second term from his Cape Girardeau-area district. He’s opposed by retired truck driver Donnie Owens who lost to Jason Crowell twelve years ago.

Could Republicans lose their super-majority in the Senate?   We asked our Magic 8 Ball and it said, “Very hazy. Try again.”   So we asked again and it said “very doubtful.”  But might Democrats gain a seat or two that at least gives them more filibuster muscle?   The Magic 8 Ball said, “No” three times.

Of course, the Magic 8 ball was answering the question in August with plenty of time to change its mind.

The House:

This year, Republicans controlled the House 116-45 with one independent.  The 117th member of the House, Don Gosen, resigned in February and has not been replaced in a special election. Republicans had a seven-vote cushion for their two-thirds majority (they need 109 for two-thirds of the membership).

All 163 seats will be elected this year.   After the August primary, only 65 seats have Republican-Democrat contests.

Going into November, Republicans are guaranteed 66 seats. Democrats are guaranteed 32.  To break the two-thirds super majority in the House, Democrats must win 23 of the 65 contested seats.  To move into the majority in the House, they would have to take fifty of the 65 contests.

The Magic 8 Ball is pretty confident the House will stay two-thirds Republican after November. We asked if Democrats will win at least one-third of the seats in the Missouri House and it responded, “My Sources say no.”  Three times.

Just for the record, the 8 ball’s signs say Chris Koster will be elected Governor.

Lieutenant Governor?  “Ask me again later?” said Eight.  “Real hazy, try again,” it said when we did.  Finally it said Russ Carnahan’s outlook is “good.”

Secretary of State?  Will the name Ashcroft carry some weight that it didn’t in a state senate election two years ago?   “It is decidedly so,” said 8B.  Just to test it, we asked if Robin Smith would win office this year and it wanted to be asked later twice before finally saying, “Cannot predict now.”  So we’ve put that race in the “leaning” Ashcroft category.

B’s sources say Judy Baker will not become Treasurer.  But at the same time it is “very doubtful” that Eric Schmitt will be elected this year.  For now, we will put this one in the toss-up category.

The black ball of knowledge says the “outlook is good” that Teresa Hensley will become Attorney General.  Asked about Josh Hawley, it said his “outlook (is) not so good.”

And the biggie:  Will Jason Kander beat Roy Blunt.  The ball thought long and hard about this one.   “Really hazy, ask again,” it said.  So we did. “Concentrate and ask again,” it said.  So we thought real hard and got “Ask again later.”

A good reporter will never let the Mystery 8 Ball straddle a fence (not sure how a ball can do that anyway) so we asked again.

“Outlook good,” it said.

Are you sure?

“Outlook good,” it responded.

So Jason Kander is going to beat Senator Blunt?

“Most likely.”

And it repeated it three more times.

Oh—for the record, the “outlook is not so good” for Hillary Clinton to beat Donald Trump.  We didn’t ask if that’s the national answer or just whether the M8B is thinking only about Missouri.

So there you have it.   The poll.   Of course, you should remember that any poll is only a snapshot of conditions at the time it is taken and many thing scan change.  We have a long way to go and the M8B’s opinions might change as conditions change.

We don’t know what M8B’s margin of error is.  When we asked, it said,

“Outlook not so good.”

But it was pretty confident in its response when we asked it again.


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