The Missouri bellwether

Missouri has voted for the winner in every Presidential election since 1904 except 1956, when Missouri voted by a very slim margin for the popular governor of a neighboring state, Adlai Stevenson of Illinois. From 1960 to 2004 the Missouri vote margin was within a percent and a half of the national margin. So, my out of state readers might want to indulge me as I engage in a bit of post primary analysis of today’s voting in Missouri.

In the gubernatorial race, 395,401 votes were cast on the Republican side, 357,320 were cast on the Democratic side and 1,724 were cast by hardcore Libertarians for their single unopposed candidate. On the surface, that bodes well for John McCain’s White House ambitions, but there’s a bit more to it.

The Democratic race was thoroughly lopsided, with a 303,584 votes for popular 4-term (16-year) Attorney General Jay Nixon. The Republican race was much closer, with Hulshof winning with a 49.2% plurality against State Treasurer Sarah Steelman with 44.7% and two unknowns who apparently did no campaigning beyond paying the filing fee.

President Ronald Reagan and Mrs. Nancy Reagan ...Image via Wikipedia

Steelman had support from a fair number of “Ron Paul Republicans” and members of the Club for Growth. The problem for McCain (not to mention Hulshof) is that a substantial portion of those are likely to vote for a third party or write-in candidate in November.

In 2004, 604,757 Republicans turned out to rubber stamp Matt Blunt as the gubernatorial nominee by an 88% margin. 847,748 Democrats voted in a closely contested race between Governor Bob Holden and challenger Claire McCaskill (Obama’s Missouri chair…at least) who beat Holden by better than 6%. The Libertarian turnout was double today’s.

The situation in the primary was almost the reverse of 2004. This year, Republican voters had every reason to turn out for a contested election while Democrats had little reason to turn out. Obamaniacs had no reason whatsoever to vote today, while McCain supporters were probably more energized by the Hulshof-Steelman contest than by the Presidential candidate himself.

One thing is certain, with roughly 10% more voters turning out as Republicans in a light primary vote, the election is not a done deal for The One. Still, with only 2/3 as many Republicans turning out for a hotly contested race as turned out for the 2004 non-event, there’s obviously a real apathy in the Republican base that’s going to present a serious challenge for John McCain and one that McCain’s pathetic Missouri campaign is doing nothing to rectify.

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