As Missouri moves right, it’s no longer a mirror of national voting, but rather national polarization
The attempts to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are over, but it’s worth noting that both of the senators who will represent Missouri next year, incumbent Senator Josh Hawley and Senator-elect Eric Schmitt, wanted to remove him as head of the Republicans in the Senate.
It’s no secret that Missouri has moved from being a bellwether state — one that closely mirrored national trends — to being a strongly Republican state. That’s a major change for Missouri, which for many generations was viewed as a microcosm of the national political environment with a mix of urban, suburban, and rural, as well as northern and southern voters, which therefore served as a good reflection of Republican and Democratic voters nationwide.
What’s less obvious is that Missouri’s Republican majority and Democratic minority are themselves internally changing. The state’s Republican Party was once typified by men such as former US senator and former state attorney general John Danforth, and by outgoing Senator Roy Blunt, also a former Missouri secretary of state and former US congressman from Springfield. Whether people love or hate Sen. Josh Hawley, it’s patently obvious that he’s very different from most previous Republican senators from Missouri. Eric Schmitt isn’t even in the Senate yet, but he ran a campaign based on criticizing Mitch McConnell and what he viewed as an overly moderate Republican leadership.
On the Democratic side of the aisle, who can dispute that Congresswoman Cori Bush is not only very different from former Gov. Jay Nixon, widely regarded as one of the most conservative Democratic governors in the country, but also very different from former Rep. Lacy Clay, a longtime fixture in St. Louis Democratic politics? Cori Bush, a leader in the Black Lives Matter movement, entered the political fray with the response to the Ferguson incident. Again, whether people love her or hate her, it can’t be denied that she mobilized many Democrats to defeat Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay, part of a political dynasty that was a pillar of institutional Democratic politics in Missouri.
Missouri may no longer be a reflection of national trends in the ratio of Republicans to Democrats — we are now a…