08 December 2011

Rank 30 / 22: Missouri


The closest race of 2008.


Table 1: Overview of the last 6 cycles

Results of the last 6 presidential cycles:
YearRankWinning %% MarginPart. ValueSwing“National SwingTrend
200024 /2850.42%+3.34%+3.86%+9.64%+8.00%+1.64
199627 / 2547.54%+6.30%-2.22%-3.85%+2.96%-6.81
199214 /3844.07%+10.15%+4.59%+14.13%+13.29%+0.84
198817 / 3551.83%+3.98%-3.75%-16.07-10.49%-5.58
Blue shading = DEM pick-up over the cycle before.
Red shading = GOP pick-up over the cycle before.

Missouri margin average, 1988-2008 (6 cycles): DEM +0.30%

MO county-by-county EXCEL spreadsheet
(raw totals for 2008 and 2004, margins, swings, % of state PV, county growth rate)


The trend in MO requires some explanation. The designation STEADY TO LEAN REPUBLICAN is not because McCain managed to hold MO against a Democratic wave in 2008, nor is it because of the massive GOP wave in the mid-term elections of 2010 (mid-terms are not used in Presidential trend calculations, and for good reason: Mid-Terms are historically bad predictors of the next GE) but rather, because the Partisan Values (statewide percentage margin over the national percentage margin) have been in ever increasing values for the Republican party since 1996 and the trend (statewide „swing“ over national „swing“) has also been in the direction of the Republican party over the last four cycles, by varying degrees. Even if 0.07% of the voters in MO had changed their minds and Obama had won MO by 0.02%, for instance, the trend value would still have been a positive one for the Republican party and the Partisan Value would have been -7.24%for the Democratic party. This is where the results of IN and MO are vastly different from each other: in IN, a huge +21.73% shift was necessary to win the state for President Obama and every single county in IN shifted and TRENDED Democratic in 2008, without exception. In MO, „only“ 7.39% more in Republican backlash to the Democratic wave was necessary to hold this state for the GOP. And, whereas Obama picked up 11 counties in IN (some of them very large), he only picked up 4 counties in MO.
Remember, a trend esignation is in no way a prediction. A rock solid Republican state, used to 66-34 wins over Democrats, may experience a statistical trend toward the Democratic party, but this means in no way that any one expects a Democratic win there, say, in Wyoming. 
But in a state like MO that has been a battleground more often than not and ended up being THE statistical battleground in 2008, based on it's performance, the trend designation means that the incumbent President will have to work harder than the statistics show in order to „flip“ this state, if that is even possible.

The Partisan Rankings over 44 years

The partisan rankings for Ranking 30 (Missouri) from 2008 backwards in history to 1964 in Table-format (highlighted in yellow) compared to Ohio (highlighted in green): Notice the dance that these two states do around each other since 1964. When all 51 "states" are done, I am going to do a specific electoral comparison between OHIO and MISSOURI from 1832 onward:

Rank2008Margin '082004Margin - 042000Margin '001996Margin '961992Margin '921988Margin '88Rank1984Margin '841980Margin '801976Margin '761972Margin '721968Margin '681964Margin '64
14 - 38MI16,44%NJ6,68%MI5,13%DE15,25%MO10,15%MD2,91%14 - 38WA12,97%SC1,53%LA5,78%IL18,52%PA3,57%PA30,22%
15 - 37OR16,35%OR4,16%ME5,11%WV14,75%OR9,95%VT3,52%15 - 37CA16,25%NC2,12%DE5,41%PA19,98%WA2,11%KY28,36%
16 - 36NJ15,53%MN3,48%PA4,17%MI13,21%PA9,02%CA3,57%16 - 36TN16,27%DE2,33%FL5,28%MT20,08%MD1,64%MO28,10%
17 - 35NM15,13%MI3,42%MN2,40%CA12,89%NM8,56%MO3,98%17 - 35VT17,11%NY2,67%NY4,43%DE20,41%TX1,27%MN27,76%
18 - 34WI13,90%PA2,50%OR0,44%WA12,54%ME8,33%NM4,96%18 - 34OH18,76%ME3,36%MO3,63%OH21,56%AR7.64%OR27,75%
19 - 33NV12,49%NH1,37%IA0,31%LA12,07%DE8,20%CT5,10%19 - 33MI18,99%WI4,72%TX3,17%ME22,98%MO1,13%NH27,28%
20 - 32PA10,31%WI0,38%WI0,22%IA10,34%MI7,40%MT5,87%20 - 32DE19,85%LA5,45%PA2,66%AK23,51%NJ2,13%TX26,82%
21 - 31MN10,24%IA0,67%NM0,06%WI10,33%CT6,43%SD6,34%21 - 31MO20,05%VT5,96%HI2,53%MD23,90%OH2,28%OH25,89%
22 -30NH9,61%NM0,79%FL0,01%NH9,95%IA6,01%CO7,78%22 -30GA20,39%MI6,49%MS1,88%NM24,49%AK2,64%WA24,59%
23 - 29IA9,53%OH2,11%NH1,27%PA9,20%TN4,65%MI7,90%23 - 29NM20,48%MO6,81%WI1,68%MO24,59%IL2,92%WI24,35%
24 - 28CO8,95%NV2,59%MO3,34%OR8,09%LA4,61%LA10,21%24 - 28KY20,66%PA7,11%OH0,27%NJ24,80%CA3,08%IA23,97%
25 - 27VA6,30%CO4,67%OH3,51%NM7,33%WI4,35%OH10,85%25 - 27NJ20,89%IL7,93%OR0,17%HI24,96%DE3,51%CO23,07%
26 - 26OH4,58%FL5,01%NV3,55%OH6,36%CO4,26%ME11,45%26 - 26CT21,90%CT9,63%ME0,84%VT26,20%WI3,62%DE22,17%
27 - 25FL2,81%MO7,20%TN3,86%MO6,30%KY3,21%KY11,64%27 - 25ME22,05%OR9,66%IA1,01%ND26,28%GA12.43%NM18,98%
28 - 24IN1,03%VA8,20%AR5,44%FL5,70%NV2,63%DE12,40%28 - 24AR22,18%OH10,60%OK1,21%WV27,22%OR6,05%IL18,94%
29 - 23NC0,33%AR9,76%AZ6,28%TN2,41%MT2,51%TX12,60%29 - 23AL22,26%WA12,34%VA1,34%NV27,36%KY6,14%MT18,38%
30 - 22MO0,13%AZ10,47%WV6,32%AZ2,22%NJ2,37%ND13,06%30 - 22MT22,30%IA12,70%SD1,48%CO28,01%NV8,16%CA18,32%
31 - 21MT2,38%NC12,43%LA7,68%NV1,02%OH1,83%KS13,23%31 - 21LA22,60%VA12,72%CA1,78%KY28,60%NH8,18%NV17,16%



MO Electoral Development (electors through history): 3 (1820-1828), 4 (1832-1840), 7 (1844-1848), 9 (1852-1860), 11 (1864-1868), 15 (1872-1880),16 (1884-1888), 17 (1892-1900), 18 (1904-1928),15 (1932-1948), 13 (1952-1960), 12 (1964-1980), 11 (1984-present), 10EV (2012- ). Missouri it still on the decline portion of its first cycle of growth and decline. It reached its electoral peak in 1904-1928. 


Missouri is the 22nd most conservative state and the 30st most liberal state, with a Republican winning margin of +0.13 % and having voted 7.39 % moreRepublican than the national margin in 2008. Missouri was the closest state-wide presidential contest in 2008 and the call for John McCain was made 15 days after the election, on Wednesday, November 19, 2008.

Missouri was the 25th most conservative state and the 27th most liberal state in 2004, with a Republican winning margin of +7.20% and having voted 4.74% more Republican than the national margin in that year. 

Missouri was the 28th most conservative state and the 24th most liberal state in 2000, with a Republican winning margin of +3.34% and having voted 3.86% more Republican than the national margin in that year. 

From 1904-2008, Missouri went for the GOP 14 times, for the DEMS 13 times.

Since1948 Missouri went for the GOP times, for the DEMS times.

Missouri was part of the Louisiana Purchase from 1803, but was first admitted to the Union under the "Missouri Compromise" of 1820, which prohibited slavery north of the 36th parallel, EXCEPT within the boundaries of the proposed state of Missouri, --somewhat like an insulated sandbox within a nation of two completely opposing sides: pro-slavery and anti-slavery. This compromise prevented the secession of the southern states from happening and essentially delayed the Civil War until the election of 1860. The compromise first did not go through as Alabama had just been admitted to the Union as a slave state and the northern states were afraid of losing the political balance. First when Maine was admitted as a slave-free state in the same year were both houses of congress willing to accept the compromise, which allowed MO as a slave state to the union, but all future states in the westward expansion north of the 36th parallel wouldautomatically be slave-free. The ramifications of the Missouri compromise sat so deep with the nation that the next states, Arkansas and Michigan (slave state & free state) would not be admitted to the Union until 1836 & 1837, in spite of the fact that they had been settled for a good long time. This unique political and social position that Missouri would play has continued until this day. Alone in the then territory of Missouri (the name for which is a Sioux word meaning "they who have dug out canoes", meaning those who travel the Missouri river), the population was split about the slavery issue and was a microcosm or "bellwether" of the nation. The state also had two serious incidents of in-state fighting, one as the newly arrived mormons were expelled from MO (the "Mormon Wars", 1839) and at the same time a border dispute with Iowa which caused both states to bristle at each other with their militias nose-to-nose at the border in 1838-1839 (the so called "Honey war"). There were also border wars with Kansas, but they were quite short as Kansas was experiencing it's own form of civil war ("Bloody Kansas") in order to find out whether the Topeka Coalition or the Wichita Coalition would win. I am writing this short but important history lesson to underline how much of a bellwether MO has been from the very start, a measurable indicator of the deep divides within our nation. 

From 1828-1852, as the Democratic-Republican Party from 1824 was split into the Democratic Party and (for the most part) the Whigs, MO went all 7 cycles without exception for the Democratic candidate.

In 1856, the first year that the GOP was on the national ballot, MO went for Democrat Buchanan by +8.87%a high single digit margin. Remember this number: you will see something similar to it a lot in MO's electoral history. But in 1856, the GOP got 0.00% of the vote here – Republican candidate James Fremont was not on the ballot in this state. 

In 1860, shortly before the Civil War broke out, the state remained barely Democratic: Democrat Steven Douglas won the state with only +0.26%over the Constitution Party candidate Bell. Abraham Lincoln only garnered 10.28% of the vote in MO in 1860.

However, in 1864, Lincoln picked-up the state for the Republicans with an incredible 69.72% of the vote and a massive +39.44% margin, which is the record holder in both percentage and percentage margin in MO's electoral history. I believe this is the only case inthe history of our Union where the very first win by a political party in a state has been the record-setter, in this case, now for almost 148 years!

In 1868, Grant retained the state for the GOP with a lesser margin of+13.92%, but then lost the state to Democrat Horace Greeley in 1872. So, within just 5 election cycles since the GOP was on the ballot nationally and 4 cycles in which the GOP was on the ballot in Missouri, we have seen massive, spectacular partisan-shifts.

From1872-1900, MO was a reliable Democratic state. The first three of those cycles (1872, 1876, 1880) were double-digit Democratic landslides, most notably, James Tilden's +16.27% landslide in the electoral backfire of 1876. The next five were single-digit wins, most of the upper single digit wins like +7.47% for Cleveland in 1884, +7.52% for Cleveland in 1892 and +8.71% for Bryan against McKinley in 1896. See: 1856 

In 1904, for the first time in 36 years, a Republican picked-up Missouri: Teddy Roosevelt, with 
+3.90%. Taft barely held the state in 1908, with a record-setting +0.09%.That is correct, McCain's +0.13%squeaker win in MO is not the closest election in the state's history: Taft's win from 1908, exactly 100 years earlier, is.

As of this point in time (1904), MO became a true bellwether for the nation. From 1904 through 1952, 13 cycles in a row, MO picked the winner in each election. It landslided for Wilson in 1912 and then stayed with him by a vastly reduced margin in 1916; both figures come relatively close to the national average in both elections.

1920 was the first time in in 52 years that a Republican won the „Show-meState“ with a landslide: Harding won with +11.43% in 1920, and in a feat of electoral statistical improbability, the state went for Hoover 8 years later with EXACTLY the same margin:+11.43%.This is the only state in the Union that I know of thus far where identical margins have appeared for that state over two or more cycles, and for the same political party, to boot.
In1932, FDR swept Missouri with a Democratic record-setting landslide of +38.62%, way over his +17.76%national margin in that year. Interestingly enough, in 1936, as FDR reached his landslide peak, MO actually trended AGAINST the 4-term president, and gave him a victory of „only“ +22.59%, just slightly under the national margin of +24.25%. In 1940 and 1944, FDR retained the state with single digit margins, both UNDER the national margin. The state had a great affinity for favorite son Harry Truman and gave him an easy +16.61% win over John Dewey in 1948, well above Truman's national margin of +4.48%.
In 1952, IKE was able to just barely pull MO over the line with a +1.56% pick-up margin, in spite of a national landslide of +10.85%.

1956 was the year when MO's bellwether streak ended: it went against the grain and gave a lean+0.22%margin (third closest in MO's history, after 1908 and 2008) to Democrat Adlai E. Stevenson II. It may be beneficial to study the dynamics of1952 and 1956 in approaching 2012 in this state, for under certain circumstances, the closeness of two races ala 1952/1956 could play out again as 2008/2012. As of this point in time, MO had missed thewinner twice in 56 years: 1900 and 1956. Ohio had only missed the winner once: 1944, and Ohio's prediction streak stretched back to1896.

In 1960, OH picked the loser in the GE: Richard Nixon, and as of this point in time the two states were again tied with each other forbellwether status over such a long time frame.

From 1964 through 2004, MO once again went with the winner for 11 cycles in a row and up to 1988, the margins were in the ballpark of the national margin as well. As of 1988, the margins were no longer a good parallel to the national margin.

McCain's win in 2008 caused MO to drop back to 3rd place in the bellwethers, after OH and NV and made MO:

-the closest race on 2008.
-the race that took the longest to declare.
-the second closest race in MO's presidential history.

Democratic strength is mostly in St. Louis, Jefferson and St. Genevieve counties in the east and Jackson, Clay and Ray counties in the west (the major cites of St. Louis and Kansas City). Republicans are strongest in the southwestern areas near Springfield and Joplin and southeastern areas near Poplar Bluff and Cape Girardeau (home of Rush Limbaugh) of the state. Many of the rural areas throughout have recently trended to vote Republican. 

Important details about MO:


-Before1904, the only two Republicans to win MO, just once a piece, were Lincoln and Grant.
-Since1904 every elected Republican president has won MO for his first term: T. Roosevelt, Taft, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, Eisenhower, Nixon,Reagan, Bush 41 and Bush 43.

-The only completely non-elected incumbent in our history, Gerald R. Ford, lost MO in his first election attempt (1976).

-A number of Republicans did not win MO in a re-election attempt: Grant (1872), Taft (1912), Hoover (1932), Eisenhower (1952), Bush 41 (1992). That makes for 4 Democratic pick-ups in MO during a successful Republican re-election.

-As a matter of fact, only three „2-term“ Republican Presidents inhistory have won MO both times: Nixon, Reagan and Bush 43. As we can see, this is a relatively new phenomenon in MO vis-a-vis Republican Presidents.

-Conversely,only one 2-term Republican in all of history did not win MO either time: William McKinley, in 1896 and 1900.

-Only one 2-term Republican in history failed to win MO in his first election but picked it up in his second: Abraham Lincoln (1864). Lincoln's pick-up in 1864 is also the first time in history that a Republican won this state and at the same time, the statistical record-setter in both winning percentage and winning percentage margin.

-Until 2008, every Democratic President in our history has won MO in his first election, without exception: Jackson (1828), Van Buren (1836), Polk (1844), Pierce (1852), Buchanan (1856), Cleveland (1884), Wilson(1912), FDR (1932), Truman (1948), Kennedy (1960), Johnson (1964),Carter (1976), Clinton (1992). This makes Obama the exception and not the rule.

Every 2-term Democratic President in our history won MO both times: Jackson (1828,1832), Cleveland (1884, 1892), Wilson (1912, 1916), FDR (1932, 1936,1940, 1944), Clinton (1992, 1996). Cleveland also won MO in 1888, the year he lost to Harrison, where upon he came back to unseat Harrisonin 1892. If Obama should become a 2-term president, then again, he would be the exception here.

The lone 1-term Democratic President from the 19th century who ran for a second term and lost nationally still won MO in his second election attempt: Van Buren (1840).

Both Democratic candidates who won in the PV but lost in the Electoral College in the19th century won MO, regardless of the national outcome: Tilden (1876), Cleveland (1888).
The only Democratic candidate in the 20th century who won in the PV but lost in the Electoral College also lost MO: Gore (2000)

Only one Democratic incumbent in all of history has lost MO in his re-election attempt: Carter (1980)

Should President Obama pick-up MO in 2012, then his case would be a mirror image of Abraham Lincoln, which would be a twist of fate, considering that both are associated with the state of Illinois.

Should President Obama win re-election in 2012 but not pick-up MO, then he would be the only 2-term Democratic President in our history to not have won MO in either cycle, which would make him mirror image to WilliamMcKinley on the Republican side. This would also be a similar comparison to George W. Bush, Jr., who is the only Republican 2-term President who did not win PA in either cycle.


No third party candidate has ever won MO since 1856, in spite of its ties to the South, where Strom Thurmond and GeorgeWallace both won southern states.

MO and Incumbents

RI and MI, Missouri has for the most part NOT rewarded incumbents who won re-election in percentage margin or Trend. Of the 11 re-election campaigns from1912-2004, 8 of them reflect a NEGATIVE partisan shift for the party in power. The trend lines have also been generally more favorable to the Republicans than to the Democrats.

President -MOYear / MarginYear / MarginState ShiftNational Shift:State minus Nat'l (TREND)
Wilson1912 / +17.601916 / +3.65-13.95-11.32-2.63
FDR1932 / +28.621936 / +22.59-6.03+6.49-12.52
FDR1936 / +22.591940 / +4.77-17.82-14.30-3.52
FDR1940 / +4.771944 / +2.94-1.83-2.46+0.63
Eisenhower1952 / +1.561956 / +0.22-1.78+4.55-6.33
Nixon1968 / +1.131972 / +24.59+23.46+22.98+0.48
Carter1976 / +3.631980 / +6.81-10.44-11.80+1.36
Reagan1980 / +6.811984 / +20.05+13.24+8.48+4.76
Bush 411988 / +3.981992 / +10.15-14.13-13.29-0.84
Clinton1992 / +10.151996 / +6.30-3.85+2.96-6.81
Bush 432000 / +3.342004 / +7.20+3.86+2.98+0.88
Obama2008 / +0.132012 / ????????????

Red shading = GOP pick-up

To explain this gobbledygook, the most important value to understand isthe “State minus Nat'l” value, in the right-most column, shaded in grey. 
If it is a positive number, then this is good for that incumbent.Unlike RI and MI, where most of the “State minus National”numbers are positive, MO is a mixed-bag of results, to say the least.

For all three 2-term Republican presidents, MO has shown the most TREND stability (Nixon TREND +0.48, Reagan TREND +4.76, Bush 41 TREND -0.84, Bush 43 TREND +0.88). It is interesting that both Eisenhower and Clinton have almost identical trend values, -6.33 and -6.81,respectively. There can be no doubt about it: since 1972, MO has been statistically more receptive to the GOP than to the Democratic party, at least in Presidential politics.

Based on its voting record, MO is a bellwether state, having missed the Electoral College winner in just 2 of the last 26 cycles, or 100 years and having missed the PV winner in 3 of the last 26 cycles, and more recently, it has missed the Electoral College winner 1 times since 1960 and the PV winner 2 times since 1960. It had a perfect bellwether record from 1904-1952 and again from1960-2004. The two years where MO missed the mark were 1956 and 2008.

Why was MO called a „battleground“ in 2008?

Because virtually all polling the entire year showed MO to be an absolute tossup state.
It is somewhat ironic that a core Republican state like IN or VA both fell to Obama, but the GOP was able to hold MO. This is yet another sign that the „Show-me State“ has tilted more to the right, while at the same time, Ohio has been tilting ever slightly to the left.

Of the 54 polls conducted in MO from November 2007 to November 2008, McCain won 28 polls, 4 of them were ties and Obama won the other 22 polls. Here the polling of MO from 2008. The end polling average showed McCainwith his nose in front by +0.46%

Can MO become a battleground in 2012?

Likely, but not guaranteed. Current polling shows the GOP field about 2 points in front of the President in MO. There is no doubt that both sides will make a play for this state in 2012.

MO SuperlativesYEARCandidateWinning %Notes
GOP1864Lincoln69.72%+39.44% margin
---------------------Winning Margin %
All-time “squeaker”1908Taft0.09%

In Missouri -and this is a fairly unique situation, the Governor and 1 Senator and 3 of 9 US Representatives are Democrats. The Lt. Governor, the other Senator and 6 of 9 US Representatives are Republican. This one of the fews Governor's mansions in the US with a split executive. In the Missouri General Assembly, the Republican Party has a hypermajority in both Houses.

Facit: in 2007, I wrote: MO is statistically about as 50-50 as 50-50 can get and though the GOP has the upper hand in the legislative, both at the national and the state level, it was not alway so. The GOP has a majority of representatives only since 1997, before then, the DEMS had a regular majority. And the senators are also evenly divided: under class 1,there were 6 DEM and 6 GOP senators since 1904. In class 3, there have been 7 DEM and 4 GOP senators since 1904. The name Clinton resonated well in MO, he won MO both times with percentages very close to his national average. Early polls show a neck and neck between HRC and RG. I predict that MO will be the very last state that I will call either for one side or for the other, if it comes down to a race between HRC and RG. In a race between HRC and Romney, I can call the state immediately for the Democrats. In a squeaker election, MO could become the Florida or Ohio of 2008. And even if a slew of polls come in showing great advances for one side, I would still wait, as Missourans tend to tighten up the race to extremes right before the election. Expect a lot of money, time, advertising and campaign-stops to be poured into this state.

Facit 2011:And indeed, MO was the last state I tried to call in 2008. MO is up for grabs in 2012 and should be a battleground state, but the ever increasing Republican trend in this state could further separate it from Ohio as a true bellwether.

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