Missouri: The Ultimate Battleground State

With One Exception Since 1904, the Show Me State Has Picked the President

Missouri may be the ultimate bellwether state. The Show Me State has failed to pick the president only once since 1904. The lone exception was 1956, when Missouri sided with Democrat Adlai Stevenson but the nation chose Republican Dwight Eisenhower.

With those odds, it makes the race in Missouri, which is in a statistical dead heat, even more intriguing. As the quintessential battleground state, the region's current political atmosphere may explain the tightness in the polls.

While Missouri can claim a Republican governor and senator, it has one Democratic senator and in the house its representatives are nearly equally divided between the parties. It has five Republican congressmen and four Democratic ones.

During the primary season both Barack Obama and John McCain captured wins there — albeit barely. Each only bested his opponent by 1 percent during the Feb. 5 contests.

It's no wonder Obama and McCain have been putting in a lot of face time in the Midwestern state.

The candidates have drawn in some of their largest crowds in the place where the East meets the West, as its famous gateway archway in St. Louis by the Mississippi River reminds passersby. It also could explain why as Missouri goes, so does the nation — or at least for more than a century.

That's likely part of the reason the lone vice presidential debate was held in St. Louis. The showdown between Palin and Biden saw no major gaffes.

But could the state with the most accurate presidential record in history get it wrong on Tuesday? Not according to Missourians.

"It's the Show Me state. So we show them," said one resident.

Yet coming to a conclusion may not be so simple for voters, who tend not to be swayed by certain political hot points.

"It is a moveable state and not anchored by a dominate ideology, not dominated by a particular econ or political interest so it responds to issues that are in the air," said Wayne Fields, who studies Missouri politics.

The most moveable voters lie in the suburbs, in places like St. Charles, and some of them remain undecided.

"My religious beliefs tell me to vote for McCain because he is pro-life, but in a lot of ways he comes up short. So I could be swayed toward Obama because he is young and is a flashback to the Kennedy era, but I have problems with his pro-life stance," said undecided voter Peggy Brinker.

If Brinker is any indication, Obama and McCain's battle will be close and won't end until the final ballot is cast and counted.

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