Missouri no longer what it used to be for national elections

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COLUMBIA — It was not too long ago that presidential candidates would make trips to Missouri one of their top priorities before a presidential election.

That’s because Missouri voted for the winner in every single presidential election for 100 years starting in 1904, except for one.

One political science professor thinks this had to do with how Missouri represented the country, but on a smaller scale.

“Missouri, historically, has been a microcosm of the entire country. It’s an average-sized state. It has a very typical number of minorities. It has a typical distribution in its economy between agriculture, manufacturing. It’s right in the middle,” said political science professor Terry Smith of Columbia College.

One member of the Democratic Party said that's no longer true.

“There’s a substantially smaller proportion of minority people in Missouri than nationwide. So, Missouri doesn’t look like the rest of the country nearly so much as it did 20 or 30 years ago,” said Homer Page, past chairperson of Boone County Democratic Central Committee.

Missouri voted for the losing Republican candidate in 2008 and 2012.

Even with President Barack Obama only losing by about 4,000 votes in Missouri in 2008, the state has shifted to more of a Republican stance on the national level.

“As a whole Missourians don’t agree with the national Democrats on many of their platform issues, especially in terms of economics with taxes, you know wanting to raise taxes,” Boone County Republican Party Chair Mike Zweifel said.

Paige said the difference between the state and national Democratic candidates have been a key reason why Republicans have been more successful in Missouri on the national level.

“The presidential candidates in the last few cycles have been more liberal than the statewide democratic candidates have been,” he said.

If the national election were less competitive, it could hurt voter turnout, but close state elections should keep that from happening.

“I think turnout in Missouri is going to be, nationally it may not be as high as it has been the last couple of elections, but I think there’s a chance that it’ll be pretty good in Missouri and that’ll be because, not necessarily because of the presidential race, but Senate and Governor,” Smith said.

As Missourians head to vote Tuesday, it looks like the recent trend will continue with Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton in Missouri, according to polls, while Clinton leads the national race.

With Missouri not being a key battleground state anymore national leaders may not visit the state much, but most of the state level elections still have the chance to go either way.