The U.S. Senate race for the Missouri seat held by incumbent Claire McCaskill (D-MO) has pretty much been neck and neck since Missouri’s Attorney General, Josh Hawley, was nominated as the Republican’s candidate in August. The tight race perhaps isn’t so much a case of Hawley’s strength as a candidate, but more a situation in which the Democratic incumbent is trying to hold onto power in a state that Trump won by more than 20 percentage points. And now, in the 11th hour, the campaign may be heating up.
Hawley has been targeted by an illegal campaign mailer that disingenuously suggests that Hawley supports gun control, which would not go well with many Missouri voters. For the record, the National Rifle Association has endorsed Hawley in the race and gives McCaskill an overall “F” rating on her support for the Second Amendment. The Hawley campaign has accused McCaskill operatives of being behind the mailers, a charge her campaign denies.
Meanwhile, The Kansas City Star, which has endorsed McCaskill, reported mid-week that Hawley utilized high-power, out-of-state political consultants to guide his further political advancement within weeks of being sworn in as Missouri’s attorney general. Along with calling out Hawley for “hypocrisy”—the candidate stated in 2016 that he would not use one political office to advance to another—McCaskill is claiming that Hawley’s actions go beyond inappropriate and may be illegal.
With Trump holding a rally for Hawley in Columbia, Missouri Thursday night, McCaskill has also been highlighting her moderate stances on issues important to her constituents. Along with siding with Trump on his assertion that the Central American migrant caravans must not be allowed to enter the country, the incumbent has been touting her record voting with Trump “half the time,” supporting 70 percent of his judicial nominees, half of his cabinet appointments, and of getting Trump’s support for 38 of her bills.
Hawley called such claims a “bunch of nonsense,” and said the senator votes with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) “90 percent of the time,” and added that “almost all Democrats vote with the president quote-unquote half the time . . . when it’s renaming the local post office.”
The truth about McCaskill’s voting record likely rests somewhere in the middle of the competing claims. Govtrack.com, gives McCaskill an ideology score of .50, putting her smack dab in the middle of the political spectrum and making her the sixth most conservative Democratic in the Senate. And the liberal ProgressivePunch.org gives McCaskill a “D” rating, which certainly suggests that the senator is more moderate than not.
Whatever the case, the tit-for-tat claims and last-gasp political shenanigans will undoubtedly continue in these last few days of the campaign. Currently the fourth most expensive—$46 million and rising—Senate race in the country, given the tight margins, little doubt that even more money will be pouring into the state in these waning days, probably enough to push it into third place.
The question is, will this money do anything to push the margins beyond the four points in either direction that the polls have consistently held since August? And, with McCaskill outraising and outspending Hawley by a margin of three to one, will additional money be enough to give her the edge?
Real Clear Politics—Missouri Senate—Hawley vs. McCaskill
GovTrack—Sen. Claire McCaskill