Elections for 35 U.S. Senate seats will take place on Election Day, and Ballotpedia has designated 16 of those 35 races as general election battlegrounds. One of those races is the Kansas Senate Seat held by Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat.
Missouri supported Pres. Donald Trump with an 18.6 point margin, which indicates just how tough of a position McCaskill is in. In addition, Missouri hasn’t elected a Democrat to a statewide office since McCaskill’s reelection is 2012. All that adds up to making McCaskill’s race one of the most vulnerable, and the most watched senate races.
McCaskill is running for her third term against Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley. Hawley is closely aligned with Trump. He’s pushing for immigration reform and running on Trump’s record of an improved economy.
McCaskill is hitting Hawley strong on his lack of support for the Affordable Care Act. According to polls, health care is the top issue among Missourians and Hawley signed onto a lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act. McCaskill says, if successful, that lawsuit pursued by nearly two dozen states would take away the guarantees to those with pre-existing conditions embedded in the act. It’s a position that’s getting her a lot of support.
Still, this week, another poll showed McCaskill and Hawley neck to neck in the polls. In this razor thin race McCaskill could certainly benefit from a large African American turn out on Election Day. In 2012, she benefitted from the large Black turnout for Barack Obama, but she doesn’t seem to have the connection with Missouri’s Black community necessary, on her own, to generate a large Black turnout.
To her rescue comes the Democrats, who recognize what’s at stake. They are targeting Black voters across the state with telephone calls encouraging them to get out and vote. In addition, the nonpartisan coalition, called Missouri Black Votes has reportedly registered 87,000 Black voters across the state. Now McCaskill can only hope they show up and vote.
Nationally, Democrats are left defending 25 seats (two of which are held by independents), while only eight seats up for election in 2018 are held by Republican incumbents. Even with an anti-Trump climate, the fact that the Democratic Party has more seats to defend places it at a disadvantage relative to the Republican Party. The Democratic Party must defend seats in 10 states that supported Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016, while only one state with a Republican incumbent was won by Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Heading into the election, the Republican Party holds a 51-seat majority in the chamber. Democrats hold 47 seats, and the remaining two are held by independents who caucus with the Democratic Party.