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Friday, August 11, 2006

MO-Sen: 15/100

Posted by RBH

In the state of Missouri in the 2004 Presidential elections, 14 counties (and St. Louis City) cast 68% of the votes, and the 100 smaller counties cast 32% of the votes. In the top 15 counties, John Kerry led 51-48. In the lower 100 counties, George W. Bush blew Kerry out of the water by a 64-35 margin.

Here's a map of the "top 15" counties (all in yellow):

There's probably not a lot of explanation needed here. The highlighted county in the Southwest is where Joplin is located. That's close to Greene County (Springfield). The five highlighted counties in the west is the KC area with Buchanan County (St. Joseph) on top of that. The two highlighted counties in the middle are Boone (Columbia) and Cole (Jefferson City). The highlighted counties in the east is the St. Louis area (but you knew that, I'd hope). The highlighted county in the southeast is Cape Giraudeau County, birthplace of Rush Limbaugh.

Now, why I decide to mention 15/100? Because Claire McCaskill's campaign is working to improve her standing in counties similar to the ones indicated on the map in sky blue.

In the 2004 Gubernatorial election, we find a big split in the results in the 15 larger counties and the other 100 counties.

Top 15: 53/46 McCaskill, Lower 100: 61/38 Blunt. Overall, Blunt won by almost 81K votes (a 51/48 margin).

In the Lt. Governor's race between Bekki Cook and Peter Kinder, the split was narrower.

Top 15: 52/45 Cook, Lower 100: 56/41 Kinder. The overall result there: Kinder wins by almost 14K votes (a very narrow 49-48 margin)

And in the Secretary of State's race between Robin Carnahan and Catherine Hanaway

Top 15: 55/43 Carnahan, Lower 100: 54/43 Hanaway. Overall, Carnahan won by a 51/46 margin.

So, it's nowhere close to fishing in a dry pond. There's enough people in the small towns of Missouri who are willing to vote for Democrats to win elections. Although it takes a lot of good fortune for Democrats to break 60% in state election. Jay Nixon beats unknown opponents with around 60%. Claire McCaskill beat an unknown Republican with 59.95%.

I'll say this in the best way possible, if you held an election between a mannequin running as a Republican and a Democrat, in some parts of Missouri, a majority of people would vote for the mannequin.

Here's a map to demonstrate that theory (McCaskill v. Hanson, 2002):

From 1900 to 2004, 5 Missouri counties never gave a majority or plurality to a Democrat. Those 5 (for reference) are Douglas, Gasconade, Putnam, Stone, and Taney. Four of those counties went to Hanson in that election. Granted, by pretty small margins.

I was inspired to write a bit about the Senate election and targeting rural areas from an e-mail sent by the Talent campaign. Here's the relevant paragraph, with my own notes on it.

We're encouraged by the fact that Claire McCaskill's rural makeover tour clearly isn't fooling Missourians.

Well, when your party is having a lot of bad days, sometimes it doesn't take much to encourage you.

In fact, McCaskill barely managed to get 80 percent of the vote versus a virtually unknown opponent.

In the 2002 Democratic primary, Jean Carnahan got 83% against an unknown opponent. In the 2000 Democratic primary, Mel Carnahan got 78% against an unknown opponent. In Missouri Democratic primaries, it seems to be an unofficial tradition for Missouri Democratic voters to cast votes for obscure people.

Her results were particularly poor in rural Missouri: in 19 counties her unknown opponent garnered 30 percent of the Democrat vote or better.

I'll note that in the Democratic primaries in those 19 counties, 30K votes we cast.

Also, in 13 of those counties, that unknown Democrat recieved more votes than Jim Talent recieved in his primary. That's not a sign of any special doom for Talent, considering the number of local elections in those counties, but it's not exactly the best line of derision. The Republican primary wasn't a ghost town, Talent got more votes than McCaskill, and both primaries had over 300K votes (with the Democratic primary having around 20K more votes).

If I wanted, I could probably go into more depth about how local primaries are held in a lot of those counties (such as the ones in dark blue on the second map) and how that caused 80% of voters to pick the Democratic primary.

In these areas and others, Republicans and Democrats alike have recognized that Claire McCaskill doesn't believe in the common sense, conservative values of the heartland.

Conservative Values? So how come Jim Talent's record veered to the middle in time for the election year? and how come Jim Talent's running from his party? From what I can tell, Talent will use the twelve letter C word, but not the ten letter R word. After all, he doesn't want to remind people of Bush and Matt Blunt.

When it comes to a rural strategy in Missouri. It's worth it. Considering the typical closeness of Missouri elections, it's smart to make sure that you don't get walloped in large parts of the states. It's also smart because the "other 100 counties" are not hostile to Democrats. They don't vote for Democrats these days, but that's not a permanent thing. It takes the right approach and enough timing to defy and destroy the Republican-created images of Democratic candidates. Sure, Democrats may not win in those counties, but it'll make it easier for them to win in the entire state.

Posted at 02:26 PM in 2006 Elections, 2006 Elections - Senate, Missouri | Technorati

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Great analysis. Thanks for it. Just out of curiosity, do you know the numbers of counties that Clinton won in Missouri in 1992 and 1996? It seems like it would be a very useful map for the McCaskill campaign to see where her best options are for picking off counties that have been painted red more recently as opposed to those hopeless southwestern counties.

I remember Clinton was twice victorious in several of the northern Missouri counties I'm most familiar with, such as Mercer, Harrison, Grundy, and Livingston, all of which went for George Bush by more than 60% in the last two elections. I would definitely recommend McCaskill's rural strategy focus disproportionately on those areas, which are generally less religious and less conservative than Ozark country.

Posted by: Mark [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 11, 2006 03:15 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Dave Liep's site has the Presidential election maps up to the public from 1960 to 2004.

Subscribers get maps going back to 1892 for most states.

Here's the specific pages for 1992 and 1996.

As for counties that went strong for Clinton or Mel Carnahan, I'll mention places like Saline County (Marshall, MO) and counties in that general area.

Here's some more links:

1996 Gubernatorial (Carnahan/Kelly)
2000 Senate (Carnahan/Ashcroft)
2000 Gubernatorial (Holden/Talent)
2002 Senate (Jean Carnahan/Talent)

Posted by: RBH [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 11, 2006 03:26 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

The 1996 election is absolutely astounding... It is also telling that the Northern part of Missouri and Southeastern part of Missouri are both takable, as Mel Carnahan sweeped it and Bill Clinton took most of it in 1992 and 1996. It is these counties that our McCaskill and our '08 nominee (Feingold? =]) must take in order to win the traditional bellweather state.

Posted by: KainIIIC [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 12, 2006 01:54 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Going after the rural voters, especially in the north and southeast where most of their grandparents leaned democrat, is the only way we will win statewide in Missouri. Articulating how republicans have reduced spending on the little guy, and reduced his ability to get a fair shake from the state government while at the same time increasing incentives and spending on businesses and insurance companies, will get joe sixpack's attention. Talk about how screwed the elderly are with increased insurance and medical bills from republican cutbacks to service yet the insurance companies get all kinds of tax breaks. I think we win if we keep it simple and repetitive.

Posted by: Kyle SF [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 12, 2006 11:48 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

The 2002 Sen election was a heartbreaker, Talent by 21,254 votes over Carnahan with the Libertarian & Green candidates pulling 28,810 votes. I note there is no Green candidate this year, but there is a Libertarian, and it looks like he's not a conservative type.
If McCaskill's experience and savvy/style can match Carnahan's name/dynasty pull, my bet is that Talent will be a goner.
And I hope that economics will become a larger issue, from gas prices to the minimum wage and social security, because that will definitely help McCaskill in those rural areas that voted for Clinton in the past.Hopefully she will be able to focus on/control that agenda.
Kudos on the info/analysis RBH.

Posted by: Predictor [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 13, 2006 03:58 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment