Not every scandal is created equal. McCaskill and Kinder are getting hit much harder in local media than Steelman and Nixon. And Democratic and Republican strategists agree that it may be too early to draw grand conclusions from the concurrent revelations.
"The clutter, I think, is pretty incidental to the outcome of any race, 18 or 20 months from now," said Democratic strategist Roy Temple
"How much traction does something have? Well, turn it into a thirty-second or sixty-second ad and put a thousand points behind it, and it will have some traction. But right now it's very difficult to say that any of these three things will do that," said former Missouri Republican Party Chairman Woody Cozad
In the short term, it does not hurt McCaskill that new developments surrounding Steelman and Kinder have come to the forefront recently. But in the long run, voters are likely to judge each individual candidate's situation on its own merits, says Temple.
"Voters here have little tolerance for corruption or fraud, so it is certainly not Illinois or Louisiana," said Temple. "I think voters here will care, if they view that there were mistakes made, whether they were intentional and how they fit into the overall context of that candidate's record and overall performance. And that is partly a function of, it is a highly competitive state, and they are used to there being dirt being flung at candidates."
The biggest danger, Cozad said, comes when voters in Missouri begin to perceive a pattern.
"You can take the McCaskill story as one story, it kind of broke as two, but you can take it as one," Cozad said. "Now the question is does it last? Well if there is a second shot and a third shot, you bet it will."
Still, as we've written on this blog, the McCaskill developments threaten to be damaging
for several reasons. Meanwhile, Kinder is not yet an official candidate, but it's hard to see how his spending on hotels won't come up if he enters the race, even after he said Tuesday that his campaign committee will repay the state
for his St. Louis travel.
Steelman does not have the GOP field to herself, and with Republican Ed Martin
(R) in the race and Rep. Todd Akin
(R) mulling a bid, she may be taking heat from visible members of both parties in the long term. And there is no sign that Republicans won't continue to go after Nixon over his own travel, but the Kinder news appears to be overshadowing it at this stage.