In the end, Missouri’s Claire McCaskill proved to be one of 2018’s most vulnerable Senate Democrats. Republican state Attorney General Josh Hawley, a staunch conservative who cast himself in the mold of a Trump loyalist, defeated McCaskill in a tough race for Missouri’s Senate seat. Donald Trump won 56 percent of the vote in Missouri in 2016.
As a moderate Democrat, McCaskill skillfully navigated Missouri’s fiercely independent political landscape for decades. But not even trying to both court Trump voters and bring her Democratic base back into the fold could lead to a win. Her 2018 campaign was also the target of attempted Russian hacking.
Early in the campaign, Hawley was hindered by explosive sexual misconduct allegations against Republican Gov. Eric Greitens. But since Greitens’s resignation, Hawley has distanced himself from the scandal and focused his attacks on his opponent.
Health care was a significant issue in the race, with McCaskill embracing Obamacare’s protections for preexisting conditions while Hawley toed an absurd line: He has joined a lawsuit to overturn the health care law in its entirety while also claiming he supports protections for preexisting conditions.