Kansas and Missouri are accurately classified as “red” states politically, dominated by Republican politicians at the federal, state and legislative levels.
However, the Kansas City region is a lot more purple than that, as some 2016 election results show. This fact always seemed to surprise many of the conservatives who used to call me at The Kansas City Star’s editorial page.
Readers seemed convince that Republicans held sway in this region and, therefore, their views should dominate the newspaper’s thinking. Fortunately, it didn’t work that way for the 32 years I worked there.
Indeed, our region’s political views are much more complicated than that, and have been for years.
Take a look at some recent results from the election boards in the city of Kansas City as well as from Jackson, Clay, Platte and Cass counties in Missouri and from Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas.
— Democrat Hillary Clinton received more votes than winner Donald Trump in the presidential race in our region. The most recent totals: 400,370 to 380,905.
Clinton beat Trump in the city of Kansas City by almost 70,000 votes and in Wyandotte County by 14,600, giving her plenty of cushion. And she lost the supposed GOP-stronghold of Johnson County by just 7,600.
Overall, Clinton got more votes than Trump in local counties on both sides of the state line.
— Democrat Jason Kander was even more impressive, getting far more votes than incumbent winner Roy Blunt in the U.S. Senate contest in our area. The updated results: 280,141 to 200,209.
Kander whipped Blunt in the city of Kansas City but also beat the veteran politician in Jackson, Clay and Platte counties. Blunt won only in the deep, deep red county of Cass.
Kander would have have been a great senator for Missouri and would have been a good person to have in Washington watching out for his old home area.
— Democrat Chris Koster easily out-polled winner Eric Greitens in the Missouri gubernatorial race in our region. The totals: 271,452 to 214,896.
Koster only won in Kansas City, but stayed close to Greitens in other election areas. Koster was behind by less than 2,000 votes in Jackson County, and by less than 1,500 in Clay County. However, Koster was swamped in Cass County (28,487 to 20,670) even though he’s a former county prosecutor there.
— A few Democrats ousted conservative Republicans in Kansas Legislature races in Johnson County, after moderate Republicans beat at least six conservative GOP incumbents in the county’s August primaries.
These results showed just how far conservative Republican forces have fallen in the county, where moderates were routed from more than a dozen seats just four years ago.
The will of Kansas City area voters was overcome by people in other parts of Kansas and Missouri when they gave Trump the victories in those states. And voters outside of Kansas City did the same thing for Blunt and Greitens in their Missouri-side races.