by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Missouri has no race for senator or governor this year, which is to say no high-visibility statewide contest to bring voters to the polls. It’s one of one only five states — Indiana, North Dakota, Utah and Washington are the others — with no such statewide contests. My hypothesis is that turnout in Missouri, in such routine and mostly not seriously contested races, should be a reasonably good indicator of relative partisan enthusiasm in a state which is at least somewhat representative of a large part — not a dominant part, but a large part — of the country.
The results are devastating for the Democratic party in Harry Truman’s home state. There are four congressional districts in which both parties had contests and in which therefore, at this stage, the numbers of votes cast in each primary are ascertainable. The area covered by two of those districts, the 3rd and the 6th, have been won by Democratic congressional candidates in recent memory, and the 7th, in the far southwest corner of the state, elected a Democrat in 1958, which I regret to say is probably beyond most readers’ recent memory. The 5th district, centered in central Kansas City, is regarded as a safe Democratic central city district and was last carried by a Republican in 1946. Here are the counts, as things stand now, of the number of votes cast in Republican and Democratic primaries and the percentage cast of the two-party total cast in the Republican primary. I’ve added the percentage of the general election votes cast for Mitt Romney in 2012.
What these figures suggest is pretty robust turnout for Republicans (probably including, considering national polling, some voters who record themselves as being disgusted with the performance of congressional Republicans) and not particularly robust turnout by Democrats in one of the two Missouri districts (of eight) that President Obama carried in 2008. Even in safely Democratic MO-5, which includes central Kansas City, where the Republican nomination is pretty much tantamount to non-election, Republican turnout was actually slightly higher than Romney’s percentage, and in the other three districts, it was significantly higher. More evidence, I think, of Democrats’ decline in non-metropolitan areas where they once — and not so long ago — routinely won majorities.