Commentary - 2012 election predictions

Oct 23, 2012

I need to clarify a point I made in my last commentary.  When I said contributions to campaigns can be limited I was referring to federal campaigns --  President and Congress.  There are four states in which there are no limits on contributions to state campaigns – governor, state representative, etc. – and Missouri is one of the four.  Rex Sinquefield has given millions of dollars to candidates in both parties – because he can.

The election is in two weeks .  How are the races shaping up?  Within the last few days I talked to three very well-informed and thoughtful friends – a Republican from Columbia, a Democrat from Columbia and a Democrat from St. Louis.  Here’s what they said.

The two Democrats nervously think Obama will win narrowly.  The Republican confidently thinks Romney will win.  My pick: Obama will be reelected with between 270 and 300 Electoral Votes – a tight finish.

All three think incumbent Sen. McCaskill will beat Todd Akin.  I concur.  She will win by at least five points.  Republicans will regret not supporting Akin even with all his troubles – this was definitely a winnable seat for them.

All three think incumbent Governor Nixon will beat Dave Spence.  None thinks it will be the blowout predicted by the polls.  I concur.  Nixon by less than ten points.

There is more consensus on the down-ballot races.  All three see the incumbent Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder beating Susan Montee, even though he has been seriously outspent.  The incumbent Democrat Chris Koster should beat Ed Martin for Attorney General and position himself well for a run for Governor in 2016.  The incumbent Democrat Clint Zwiefel  should beat his opponent for State Treasurer.  Ah, the advantages of incumbency.  In the only statewide race without an incumbent – Sec. of State – the Republican Shane Schoeller is favored to beat the Democrat Jason Kander. 

Closer to home, the incumbent U.S. Representative Vicky Hartzler should beat her challenger Teresa Hensley in the 4th District.  The new 4th is a rural district that leans Republican, with Columbia being about the only area with a concentrated Democratic vote.

Both local observers think incumbent State Sen. Kurt Schaeffer will be reelected over State Rep. Mary Still, especially since Cooper Co. is now in the district.  I concur and expect him to win by at least five points.

Several local state representative races are interesting and still up for grabs.  Former State Sen. Ken Jacobs is running against newcomer Caleb Rowden in a slightly Republican district.  This one is too close to call today.  In the other local competitive state legislative race self-funded and heavy-spending Democrat John Wright faces Mitch Richards and should win in this Democratic-leaning district.

All three observers think Proposition B, the cigarette tax, will win but are not confident in their prediction, given the anti-tax fever in Missouri.

In the Presidential race, both campaigns will now start ramping up the grunt work in earnest, the “get out the vote” drive. My two democrat friends nervously think President Barack Obama will win, narrowly. The Republican confidently thinks Mitt Romney will win. My pick? Obama will be re-elected with between 270-300 electoral votes. A tight finish.