Boone County could be Missouri's last political battleground
BOONE COUNTY - Wednesday is the last day for Missouri voters to register vote in the upcoming primary election on August 2, 2016.
The PEW Research Group reported in the 2012 general election: Boone County and Ste. Genevieve counties were the two most competitive between Democrats and Republicans in the state. On a national level PEW reported that in recent years there are fewer counties are electorally competitive.
The measurement of competitiveness is a margin of less than 5 percent difference between then candidates Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama. In Boone County 50.17 percent of voters chose President Obama and 47.1 percent chose Romney.
Mark Farnen, a managing partner of Strategists LLC, a governmental affairs and PR firm in Columbia has been active in democratic politics since 1960. He has been involved in a variety of races in central Missouri for the last 40 years.
Farnen said he has noticed an increase in the competitive nature of Boone County voters.
"Years ago that was an anomaly and it was an entirely democratic contingent that would come from Boone County," Farnen said. "We have had primarily on the local level we've been represented by democratic candidates and office holders since the 1960s easily."
Today the county is represented by 2 democrats and 3 republicans.
Farnen also attributed the unique Boone County political climate to the county's diverse makeup.
"We have such an influx of people and we have such a diverse economy and diverse lifestyle. Rural versus urban and its all right here within 30 miles of each other."
Mike Zweifel, the Boone County Republican's central committee chair agreed. Originally from Linn, Mo., Zweifel has been involved in politics since 2004. His current job is to coordinate efforts to elect republicans in Boone County.
"I think there is a misconception about Boone County being all Columbia. There are several rural committees and rural areas in Boone County," Zweifel said.
Zweifel said that while Columbia is more left-leaning than cities like Centralia, Hallsville and Sturgeon from his knowledge are more right-leaning.
"There is a willingness to listen to the other side here though that may not be in other counties just because it is kind of a duality here with Columbia being urban and the rest of the county being rural," Zweifel said. "We have our differences definitely but I do think we can try to find solutions when we can and work together where we can."
Farnen said that while the county is competitive he is displeased with voter turnout and overall engagement in the political process.
"Not enough people register and not enough people vote and until then we won't know what our true standing is until we get 100 percent population," Farnen said. "As low as about 9 percent in municipal election and as high as 70 percent in the general election."