Yael T. Abouhalkah

How will Donald Trump’s campaign affect Kevin Yoder, Roy Blunt and KC area voters?

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, might be hurt at the polls by the antics of presidential candidate Donald Trump. Or ... maybe not.
U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, might be hurt at the polls by the antics of presidential candidate Donald Trump. Or ... maybe not. The Associated Press

Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy is going to damage the election chances of other Republicans running for state legislative seats, Congress and other offices in Kansas and Missouri.

Watch out, U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder in Kansas. And trouble is ahead for U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt in Missouri.

Or so goes much of conventional wisdom in 2016.

Nathan Gonzales of The Rothenburg and Gonzales Political Report is in that camp.

“(Trump’s) really becoming a distraction for Republican candidates,” Gonzales said this week. “I’m sure Blunt and his colleagues have a set of issues that they want to talk about.... But Donald Trump takes up so much of the news that they’re often forced to be on the defensive.”

However, Trump already has turned conventional political thought on its head plenty of times in this presidential race.

Predictions of a negative Trump effect on other GOP candidates could be wrong. Dead wrong.

And the Democratic voters and candidates hoping for strolls to victory on Nov. 8 could be in for some rude shocks.

Why might this be?

Hillary Clinton is extremely unpopular with Americans, so any surge of Democratic voters to the polls could be muted more than now expected.

Plus, Trump’s rabid supporters could turn out to give Republicans an edge in close elections, especially in statewide races for Missouri’s U.S. Senate seat and the governor’s office.

Granted, with elections still 12 weeks away, many unknowns remain.

As Kansas Republican Party Executive Director Clay Barker told a Johnson County group this week, “A lot of Republicans don’t like Trump. A lot of Democrats don’t like Clinton. I don’t know how that’s going to affect ... turnout.”

Local Democratic consultant Steve Glorioso said Wednesday he thinks the enthusiasm gap between voters this fall will help Clinton.

Indeed, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll found 63 percent of Democrats felt “strongly favorable” about Clinton but only 36 percent of Republicans saw Trump that way.

Glorioso’s take is that “Republicans are not universally revved up to vote in November.”

On the GOP side, Barker said, “We are actually at the party getting a lot more people calling in wanting Trump stuff this early. He has a core of supporters that are hard core.”

Blunt’s race against Democrat Jason Kander and Yoder’s against Democrat Jay Sidie are among those that deserve plenty of attention from local voters.

Kander recently criticized Blunt for endorsing Trump despite his contentious comments on a wide range of issues. Blunt is putting “party ahead of country,” Kander said.

Blunt has said he continues to back Trump, while still breaking with a few of his statements.

Powerful Democratic groups and fundraisers are hoping Kander’s attacks on Blunt and Trump pay off as the party attempts to wrest control of the U.S. Senate from Republicans.

In Kansas, a poll last week found surprising news: Clinton led Trump in Yoder’s congressional district — basically Johnson and Wyandotte counties — by a 44-38 percent margin.

But as Yoder’s backers emphasized, the poll also found he was ahead of Sidie by a comfortable 53-36 percent margin.

Again, it’s still mid-August. That’s plenty of time for Yoder, Blunt and other Republicans to make the case they don’t always agree with Donald Trump.

Kander, Sidie and many other Democrats hope time is on their side, especially if Trump continues his gaffe-laden campaign.

Kansas City area voters — many with concerns about both presidential candidates — will be watching while waiting to go to the polls in November.

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