You look at what happened in Utah, Kentucky, and Florida—in all of those big races, the political insider lost to the Tea Party upstart. Here the Tea Party can’t get any support: Roy Blunt has all the cash. The Tea Party is for the most part backing a primary opponent to Roy Blunt, Chuck Purgason, but he’s not getting any national money, so without the money his grassroots support isn’t sufficient. And Michele Bachmann just threw her support behind Blunt. Her coming in angered a lot of the Tea Party folks in Missouri—Blunt voted for the bailout and is kind of the antithesis of what the Tea Party movement is about this year.
Robin Carnahan’s going to get like 80 percent of the Democratic vote on Tuesday. Blunt’s number’s not going to be as big because Purgason could take away some of his momentum; Purgason’s numbers on Tuesday could help determine whether the Tea Party is at all involved in the national election. If Blunt wins the primary, as is likely, and goes on to face Carnahan in November, those activists that are mad at Blunt and support his opponent are not likely to vote for Robin Carnahan—but the question is, do they vote in November? To me, Roy Blunt doesn’t bring in Michele Bachmann if he’s not at least a little bit worried about Tuesday. If this were the general election, he’s not bringing in Michele Bachmann, because she’s not going to help with independents.
3. Ultimately, the Senate race will be won or lost in southwest Missouri.
When people talk about a bellwether state, they sort of think that it’s a state that has a lot of independent voters. Missouri politically right now is not all that balanced. It’s fervently Republican in 85 percent of the state, and the urban areas are fervently Democratic. There’s no real purple in Missouri; it’s either red or blue, and it’s almost entirely red. The state legislature is completely controlled by the Republicans. Yet the governor, Jay Nixon, is a Democrat, as is Senator Claire McCaskill. Part of that is both of them were very effective at campaigning in some of the rural areas.
Nixon actually won Greene County, in southwest Missouri, where Roy Blunt’s from. Carnahan is probably going to run a similar campaign, getting out into those rural areas. She concentrates on letting people know she’s got a family farm in Rolla, in south central Missouri. She’s a lawyer, but she runs the farm as well. That is a similar strategy to what Nixon and McCaskill did. But the difference is that Roy Blunt is still incredibly popular in southwest Missouri. If you don’t get some numbers out of there you just can’t win in a general election. It’s going to be hard for Carnahan to get the sort of numbers McCaskill and Nixon got. Without those numbers, she will have to absolutely destroy him in the cities.