Here’s what I think I think in the wake of one astounding, and monumental, election:
▪ Missouri Republicans owe Donald Trump big time. The president-elect beat Hillary Clinton in Missouri by nearly 20 points.
The effect was like a vacuum cleaner with Trump pulling along the rest of the statewide ticket with him. Without Trump at the top of the ticket, Eric Greitens may well not be governor-elect today and Roy Blunt would not be going back to the Senate for a second term.
Prior to the election, D’s and R’s agreed that the magic line in Missouri was 10 points. If Trump won by more than 10, he’d likely help his fellow Republicans. If he lost by less than 10, Democratic chances would rise.
Trump about doubled that number, and the effect was powerful.
A reputable Republican poll — OK, there’s an oxymoron for you — with a massive sample size taken just before the election had both Greitens and Blunt losing, though Blunt was trailing by just one-tenth of 1 percent. The survey had Trump winning Missouri by nine points.
Greitens wound up winning by 6 points and Blunt by 3. The Trump effect was HUUUUGE.
▪ After all that controversy during the campaign, Trump proved to be far stronger among women than almost anybody expected. In Missouri, Trump beat Clinton among females by 10 points — 53-43 percent. (No Kansas exit poll was conducted.)
▪ If Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback winds up resigning to take the agriculture secretary spot in Trump’s cabinet, the state is going to howl. The charge: Brownback will be bailing on his home state after creating a horrible financial mess.
Former Missouri Sen. Jim Talent is on the list as a potential defense secretary. He’s widely respected by both parties. A Talent pick would be hailed as a wise choice.
▪ The very early favorite for the 2018 Kansas governor’s race: Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, a Topeka Republican.
▪ The people to watch in Missouri with potentially great political futures: Greitens, attorney general-elect Josh Hawley (who’s 36) and Democrats Chris Koster, who lost the governor’s race, and Jason Kander, 35, who lost to Blunt. There’s no telling how far Greitens might go. The whispers? 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
▪ Irony alert: A Missouri governor’s race that began with Republican Tom Schweich making accusations of anti-Semitism ended with the election of Greitens, who is believed to be the state’s first Jewish governor.
▪ Writing off the Carnahan family in Missouri has proven foolish more than once in my career. But Tuesday may have finally done it. Russ Carnahan, the former St. Louis congressman, lost his race for lieutenant governor by 11 points.
Robin Carnahan, who was defeated in her bid for the U.S. Senate in Missouri in 2010, is off the scene now. So is family matriarch Jean Carnahan.
An enduring lesson of the Carnahan years is that there’s no dishonor in losing elections. You put out your ideas and values, then allow the voters to decide.
▪ Democrats in these parts are going to have to find ways to engage their base again. The tale of the tape Tuesday in Missouri is that turnout in the state’s Democratic stronghold — Jackson County and St. Louis City and County — dropped by 41,500 votes in 2016 compared with 2012. In the rest of the state? Turnout rose by nearly 91,500.
In Wyandotte County on the Kansas side, more than 3,000 fewer votes were cast for president in 2016 than in 2012. Clinton received about 5,000 fewer votes than Barack Obama.
That’s a problem.
▪ The old conventional wisdom about Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill: She won’t seek re-election in 2018 despite her announcement that she’s going again. The new CW: She’s definitely running. Midterm elections favor the party that doesn’t hold the White House. That gives McCaskill a shot at a third term even in increasingly red Missouri.
▪ That constitutional amendment Missouri voters endorsed this week to limit the size of campaign donations doesn’t go into effect until Dec. 9. In the meantime, the big money continues to flow post-election as special interests try to get right with the state’s new leaders.
Examples? Nearly $17,000 from Onshore Technology Services of Macon, Mo., to Greitens; and $10,000 from Zevan & Davidson Law Firm of St. Louis to incoming state Treasurer Eric Schmitt.
▪ For the second time in modern history, a Democratic presidential candidate appears to have picked up more votes than the Republican, but lost the race because of the Electoral College. The foot-stomping over the college’s elimination is about to begin anew. Don’t expect any changes, even though Trump himself once called it “a disaster for democracy.” Why? Trump won with the system just the way it is.