Johnson County analysis: Voters surprised Democrats – and some Republicans

Cindy Holscher turned in a positive performance for a Democrat in Johnson County.

Cindy Holscher turned in a positive performance for a Democrat in Johnson County.

Here were three story lines before Tuesday’s elections in Johnson County — and how voters actually decided them.

Democrat Hillary Clinton will beat Republican Donald Trump in Johnson County.

A poll indicated a Clinton victory a month ago, even though residents lean toward the GOP party in most of their political choices. Longtime local columnist Steve Rose said it was possible, too. And those predictions made some sense, given the moderate versions of the GOP voters who exist in the county, especially in the northeast part.

Reality: Trump defeated Clinton with 133,907 votes to 126,324 for Clinton. Gary Johnson got 14,673.

Republican Kevin Yoder will have a tougher than expected time defeating Democrat Jay Sidie in the 3rd congressional district race.

Again, a poll said so, albeit from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. President Barack Obama endorsed Sidie late in the race, highlighting the importance of the race. And Republicans suddenly had to pour hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign to prop up Yoder and blast Sidie.

Reality: Yoder trounced Sidie, who ran a mostly invisible campaign the last few weeks. Total votes cast in Johnson County were 151,955 for Yoder and 108,238 for Sidie. (Sidie won Democratic-leaning Wyandotte County by only 10,400 votes.)

More positively, Sidie did come closer to Yoder than Democrat Kelly Kultala did in 2014.

Democrats will make inroads in the Kansas Legislature by winning some Senate and House seats.

This was predicted by moderate GOP and Democratic leaders, especially after moderate Republicans fortunately ousted a half-dozen conservative allies of Gov. Sam Brownback in the August primaries. Democrats ran candidates in almost all legislative races in the county, after failing abysmally to do that in 2014 and years before that.

Reality: Conservative Republicans hung on to a few seats they deserved to lose. The worst case was ultra-conservative incumbent Mary Pilcher-Cook defeating Democrat Vicki Hiatt in the 10th Senate District. Incumbent Republican Jim Denning undeservedly beat back a challenge from Don McGuire in the 8th Senate District.

Incumbent Julia Lynn kept her seat against Chris Morrow in the 9th District.

And in a bit of a different category, a spirited and well-financed challenge by Democrat Logan Heley fell short of beating moderate Republican Dinah Sykes in  the 21st District.

Democrat Brett Parker beat a Republican incumbent Tuesday.

Democrat Brett Parker beat a Republican incumbent Tuesday.

But the news was far more positive for Democrats in House contests.

Jerry Stogsdill picked up a seat for the party by beating Dorothy Hughes in the open 21st District.

Cindy Holscher kicked incumbent Republican Amanda Grosserode to the curb in the 16th District, while Brett Parker beat incumbent Republican James Eric Todd in the 29th District.

And  Cindy Neighbor won the open 18th District seat over the GOP’s Eric Jenkins.

In a less-than-upbeat development, Democrat Helen Stoll lost to moderate GOP candidate Tom Cox in the 17th District.

Johnson County voters backed Democratic candidates more than they have in the recent past — just not enough to help beat Yoder or the GOP’s presidential candidate.