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No longer a bellwether, how significant will Missouri’s role be during the 2016 election?

Professors of political science Ken Warren of SLU (left) and Dave Robertson of UMSL (middle) joined St. Louis Public Radio's Jo Mannies (right) and host Don Marsh.
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

On Wednesday, “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh led a discussion about the role Missouri might play during the 2016 Presidential Election. Joining Marsh were St. Louis Public Radio political reporter Jo Mannies, University of Missouri-St. Louis political science professor David Robertson, and Saint Louis University political science professor Ken Warren.

For most of the 20th century, Missouri was considered the most reliable bellwether state in the country when it came to presidential elections.  A majority of the state's voters had favored the national winner in every election from 1904 until 2004 -- with the exception of 1956. That status ended with the 2008 election when the Republican candidate prevailed in the state. In 2012, President Obama did not even publicly campaign in the state, although he did stop by to raise money at private events.

Robertson, Warren and Mannies agreed that a key reason for the change in Missouri's status is the fact that its population no longer mirrors the demographics of the nation.  Among other things, Missouri has few Hispanics, even though that group is now the nation's largest minority.

Although Missouri has voted Republican in the last two presidential elections, all three guests agree that Hillary Clinton does have a chance in the state in 2016 should she be the Democratic nominee.

“I think she would be more competitive than Obama in this state,” Robertson said. “She and her husband are pretty good at campaigning in mid-south states and should be appealing in parts of Missouri. Things have changed since the 1990s, but I agree she has a chance to win this.”

Other topics discussed include Clinton’s recent visit in Florissant, the impact of Missouri’s demographics on voting, and the recent Supreme Court rulings on the Affordable Care Act and same-sex marriage.

St. Louis on the Air discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.

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Mary Edwards came to St. Louis Public Radio in 1974, just after finishing her Bachelor of Music degree at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has served the station in a number of capacities over the years. From 1988-2014 she also taught an undergraduate class in radio production at Webster University. Mary was inducted into the St. Louis Media History Foundation Media Hall of Fame in April, 2017 and received the Gateway Media Literacy Partners' Charles Klotzer Media Literacy Award in 2012. Mary retired from St. Louis Public Radio in 2018, but still serves the station as a St. Louis Symphony Producer.
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