The Shame And Embarrassment Of Missouri: What Has Happened To The “Show Me” State?

Missouri is smack in the middle of the United States, and is the ultimate swing state, having successfully gone with the winner of the Presidency in every election since 1900, except for 1956 (picking Adlai Stevenson over Dwight D. Eisenhower) and 2008 (picking John McCain over Barack Obama).

However, both times the final result was not known for days, and the victory was only by about 4,000 votes statewide.

Missouri is also the state historically of the following statesmen:

President Harry Truman (1945-1953), who had served in the Senate from 1935-1945 (Democrat)
Senator Thomas Hart Benton (1821-1851) (Democrat)
Senator Carl Schurz (1869-1875) (Republican)
Senator Stuart Symington (1953-1977) (Democrat)
Senator John Danforth (1977-1995) (Republican)
Senator Thomas Eagleton (1969-1987) (Democrat)

But now, Missouri is represented by Senator Roy Blunt, who used to be one of the top Republicans in the House of Representatives, and has become connected to the Blunt Amendment proposal, allowing any employer to prevent medical services based on religious grounds to any employee, a measure defeated by the Democratic majority in the US Senate. This is seen as anti women, interfering with their right to have birth control as part of medical plans.

And now, Congressman Todd Akin, controversial for his comment about “legitimate” rape, but refusing to withdraw as the GOP nominee for the Senate seat of Senator Claire McCaskill, is putting Missouri into the strange position of possibly having both Senators on record as against the rights of women to control their own reproductive lives, and trying to prevent abortion if a victim of rape or incest, or her life itself is threatened, an extremely right wing position.

The Republican Party and Mitt Romney had backed away from support of Akin, but now that he is remaining in the race for the Senate, the question is whether the Republican Party will change its mind and end up supporting Akin’s candidacy financially.

This McCaskill-Akin race could well be the decisive one that determines whether the Democrats keep control of the US Senate, or if the Republicans gain control.

It would seem that McCaskill should win, not only because of the controversy raised by Akin, but because she has done a good job in her one term in the Senate.

But Missouri is an odd state, with strong evangelical roots, and it would be a major shame and embarrassment for the state were they to end up having two right wing Senators at the same time.

The state would lose all respect of political observers who see moderation as the way to get things done in the Senate, and it would be a major step backwards for women’s rights!

So everyone should contribute to this pivotal race, as the key one which could determine the political future in so many ways!

And it is up to Missouri voters to show they are indeed the “Show Me” state, and will not tolerate having an extreme right winger in the Senate, joining Senator Roy Blunt!

3 comments on “The Shame And Embarrassment Of Missouri: What Has Happened To The “Show Me” State?

  1. D October 3, 2012 1:01 pm

    A lot of this touches on the issue of presidential bellwether states. Over time, some remain applicable over a long period. And some others eventually drop off (tilting and, ultimately, siding with one party routinely). Missouri is a declined bellwether state. It has a Republican tilt which started in 1996 when Bill Clinton carried it in re-election but with a statewide margin under his national. (In 1992, Mo. exceed the national margin for Clinton.) Apparently Mo. may now be in a position that effectively says: If the Show Me State votes for a presidential winner … it is merely coincidental that [Mo.] Shows a willingness to end up in the column for the winner. (In other words: Mo. had backed all winning Democrats prior to 2008 Barack Obama because, in part, it had a historically Democratic tilt. Now, [Mo.] is apparently going the opposite route: It will definitely carry for all winning Republicans … but prevailing Democrats who will also win over the state will have done so because they will happened to have managed to pull in Missouri.)

    In 2008, John McCain narrowly carried the state of Missouri by a raw vote count of 3,903 and a margin of R+0.13. (The “R” stands for his party: Republican.) I would like to see President Barack Obama shift the minimum 1,952 votes necessary to flip it. Key to why Obama didn’t get it in 2008 was because the females underperformed what he needed for state carriage: 50%. But the men in Missouri voted like they were still keeping Mo. an important bellwether: 48%. Nationally, the president in 2008 received 49% from males vs. 56% from females. So, the women of Missouri—especially if they don’t take kindly to Todd Akin—should boost Democratic support to, undoubtedly, give first-term Sen. Claire McCaskill a re-election victory (exceeding her 2008 pickup margin of D+2.3), and perhaps McCaskill will surprise the pollsters and win over the male vote. (Given, of course, their support level for the presidency in 2008.) She will certainly put up better numbers than President Obama. So rather than a congressional winner benefitting from a president’s coattails, this could work the opposite—that it would be McCaskill who pulls in Obama.

    Looking at real bellwether states, in this period, Ohio still reigns supreme. It’s not enough to look at states which happen to routinely end up in the column of winning candidacies (one election after the next). Ohio—which has carried for all winners (but two) since 1896—has produced statewide margins no greater than five percentage points outside the national performance of presidential winners since Lyndon Johnson landslided Barry Goldwater in 1964. President Obama flipped and carried Ohio, in 2008, by a margin of D+4.59. He beat McCain nationally by D+7.26. The spread was just 2.67. To say that Ohio has a hell of a track record in voting for presidential winners isn’t quite showing the appreciation of the level of just how remarkably Ohio does such a job.

    I look now to both Virginia and Colorado. They were Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in coming closest to Obama’s popular-vote margin from 2008. Va. flipped and carried for Obama by D+6.30. Colo. likewise flipped and carried for Obama by D+8.95. Their spreads were just 0.96 and 1.69. Since 1996, Va. and Colo.—strictly compared with each other—boasted margin spreads no greater than 3.53 from 2004. (It was no coincidence they both were on President Obama’s radar as potential Democratic pickups for 2008. With exception of 1992, both states have voted the same since the first post-World War II presidential election of 1948.) And there is a boost with Colo. with this fact: In 2008, it was the only state in the nation where Obama’s gender support matched his national outcome—yes, 56% females and 49% males! I believe these two are “rising bellwether states.”

    Nevada—in the column for all winners since 1912 (except 1976)—still ranks as key, too. George W. Bush’s 2004 [re-]election saw Nev. carry for him by R+2.59. Nationally he beat John Kerry by just R+2.46. (A historical low for an incumbent re-elected to a second full term.) The spread was just 0.13. In 2008, Obama became the first Democrat to win bellwether Nevada by a margin exceeding his national result since John Kennedy in 1960. Obama flipped and carried the state by D+12.50. That was a spread of 5.24.

    One may add these following states as a precious few along with the above-mentioned bellwethers: Florida—which has backed the winners in all, but two, since 1928—because its statewide margin spreads from the national have also been no greater than five percentage points since 1996.… Iowa, due to statewide margins no greater than a 3-point spread from the presidential winners’ national performance since 1992.… New Mexico—which has voted the same as Nevada since it first participated 100 years ago, in 1912, with exception of 2000—but, of course, we may see that changing state emerge as a Democratic tilt. (Due, perhaps, to having an overrepresenting of Hispanics by comparison to other bellwether states. Nevada’s demographics come closer to reflecting the national. But the two states have, since 1912, voted like they were a package deal.)

    Before I end this response, I’ll add this one last point about Missouri (and beyond): I don’t reside in this state. But I figure Roy Blunt is the junior U.S. Senator of Missouri because he won his first-term election, in a Republican-favored 2010, because of basic tenets of a midterm election which have, to some degree, national implications. Best way to compare numbers are with the voting turnout for House races. Approximately 30 percent less who vote for House races in presidential years (say, 2004 and 2008) participate with voting for House races in midterm years (2006, compared to 2004; and 2010, compared to 2008). Though Blunt is now in the U.S. Senate, please bare in mind that one-third of their seats are on the schedule every two years. So this touches on the “type” of election year. For example: I have been convinced the last couple years that the 2012 Virginia U.S. Senate race will match results in party victory with that of the presidential race. (That, yes, I predict re-election for President Obama, along with carriage of Va., and for the Democrats to retain the Senate seat via former Governor and DNC chairman Tim Kaine.)

    This presidential-vs.-midterm comparison also helps to explain why so many governorships in blue presidential states flipped Republican in 2010. A stream of those—including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Oklahoma, and Kansas—have been in the habit of voting for the party [nominee] opposite the sitting president. (Pa. and Mich. vote alike in presidential elections. Kan. and Okla.—though have ben substantial differences in their margins—also vote the same in presidentials. Pa. has elected governors opposite a president’s party in nearly all midterms since 1938; Mich. has been on this roll, with nearly all, since 1978; Okla. and Kan.—though not for as long a period—have also been doing this for more than 20 years.) Those red states—and some others (like Wyoming, on this pattern since 1958)—went Democratic for their gubernatorial elections while Republican George W. Bush was in the White House. So, one may want to be more mindful of the type of political election year.

    Keeping an eye on the future of Missouri—for its political leanings and for how the electorate will be voting in presidential elections (which include 2012)—may be worthy of our attention. If President Barack Obama wins re-election by a stronger popular-vote margin (which is typical for re-elected incumbents); if Claire McCaskill gets re-elected as the state’s senior U.S. Senator; but, at the same time, Mitt Romney holds the state in the column for the Republican Party … well, “that” may be a sure sign that Missouri’s longterm bellwether days are officially over. And that, in such case, one would better off referring to its neighboring state of Iowa.

  2. D October 3, 2012 1:05 pm

    Correction: “So, the women of Missouri—especially if they don’t take kindly to Todd Akin—should boost Democratic support to, undoubtedly, give first-term Sen. Claire McCaskill a re-election victory (exceeding her 2008 pickup margin of D+2.3)…”

    Claire McCaskill’s first-term victory came in 2006. I’m aware of this; the above mistake was a typo. (Sorry. I’d love if it Ronald could correct that, and then eliminate this response. Don’t know if that’s doable.)

  3. Ronald October 3, 2012 1:45 pm

    Wow, what an analysis of “bellweather states”!

    I thank you for it, and for your correction on the year of McCaskill’s first election to the Senate.

    It is still a fact that Missouri has gone with the winner of the Presidency all but twice, in 1956 and 2008 since 1900, and almost by the exact same margin of about 4,000 votes both times, and I think Missouri will go for Obama this time, along with reelecting McCaskill!

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