Can Missouri Keep Up?

Politics, Presidential Elections, US Elections, US Politics

For the last one hundred years, Missouri has been the “bellwether” state for the union.  Missouri’s status as the state with the best historical tracking record in the country for Presidential politics regularly makes the press and the University of Missouri even makes note of it on their web site.

“There is no other state like Missouri,” said Marvin Overby, professor and Frederick A. Middlebush Chair in the Department of Political Science. “Missouri is the southernmost northern state, northernmost southern state, easternmost western state and westernmost eastern state. It is geographically and demographically in the middle. It’s in a unique position that tends to reflect well where the rest of the country is politically.”

Can Missouri do it again?

The Show-Me state survived a close call in 2000 when a thousand votes in Florida preserved its record of only calling one election wrong in a century.  Missouri looked like a great barometer for the mood of the country in 2006 when Claire McCaskill defeated incumbant Republican senator Jim Talent.  It was right on the money again when it gave a narrow primary victory to Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton.  But on the right side of the ticket, Missouri has been slowly drifting conservative.  In 2004, President Bush won the state by seven percent versus three percent for the country as a whole.  In the Republican primary, John McCain squeaked out a one percent win over Mike Huckabee and only got 33% of the vote in a four way contest.  The polls this year show the same drift.  While Senator Obama has been ahead nationally most of the election cycle and has opened his widest margin in the campaign so far, Missouri is still conflicted.

Missouri Polls Collected by

Missouri Polls Collected by

Still, it looks like Obama is making headway here and Missouri has never claimed to be a trend setter.  Missouri is a follower trying to reflect the mood of the country as a whole.  If history repeats, John McCain better start worrying about Missouri.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. nimh  •  Oct 6, 2008 @6:46 pm

    Yeah, Missouri is odd this year. As that graph shows it’s really hardly been in play this year, running far behind on Obama’s scale of possible pick-ups behind states like Ohio, Nevada and traditionally red states like Virginia and Colorado. Florida now too, and who would have thought, even just two or four years ago, that North-Carolina would be veering more towards Obama than Missouri?

    But with Obama’s surge this last week or two, Missouri is finally and after all truly in play. Which is good news, of course, even if just for reasons of superstition alone, considering its bellwether status.

    Any idea though why states like North-Carolina and Virginia have crossed past Missouri to becoming the more purple states? I mean, I’ve read a lot about why NC and VA have become more and more purple, the demographic and economic reasons – but why has Virginia, relatively speaking at least, gone the other way and become a less likely pickup state? Has the state changed, or is rather the effect of lack of change, social stagnation?