Hillary Clinton (D) has stopped in Missouri, where she discussed and listen to discussion about race relations in a North St. Louis County church, and participated in a fundraiser at the historic former home of President Ulysses S. Grant.
A political science professor at St. Louis University says Missouri is potentially a big state for the former First Lady and Secretary of State in her race to become president, and he believes that race could see Missouri return to bellwether status.
Professor Ken Warren says, that Missouri is a key state to Clinton is made obvious by the fact she came.
“When you target a state and you agree to go in a state, you agree to go in it because you feel you have a chance of winning it. You can have a fundraiser anywhere,” said Warren, “and she will hold fundraisers in many states, but very seldom do you ever see candidates go to a state they feel is not in play, because that’s just cost ineffective to do so.”
Warren says though Missouri hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1996, he believes it really isn’t a “red state.”
“I think it could return to being a swing state, and I think that’s one of the reasons Hillary Clinton is here,” Warren told Missourinet. “She realizes that she has a chance of winning Missouri. Internal polls actually show that she’s only down three or four percentage points in Missouri, so she could easily make that up in a campaign.”
Warren says obviously just how important Missouri is to Clinton will be more as the campaign continues, if she makes more trips to the state. If she does, he believes she will need to spend some time out of the metropolitan areas.
“Normally candidates like to minimize the vote against Democratic candidates by going into rural Missouri. They know they can’t win rural Missouri but they try to minimize the vote against them. This is what Claire McCaskill did, not as a presidential candidate, but as a senatorial candidate,” said Warren. “She developed a rural strategy after losing once in 2004 to Matt Blunt in the gubernatorial race. She made sure that she wouldn’t lose again by getting crushed in rural areas.”
For Missouri to be closely contested in 2016 would be good for the state.
“It will benefit the state as far as being a swing state and having the national media and even the international media focus on Missouri. It has been written off just recently, but only one time in 2012 actually when it was written off as completely unwinnable and the candidates really didn’t even campaign in Missouri because they didn’t perceive it as a competitive state.”
Missouri was last considered a contested state in 2008 when its voters favored Republican John McCain over Barack Obama by a 0.1% margin. Clinton’s husband, former president and fellow Democrat Bill Clinton, won Missouri twice in the 1990s.
Warren wrote about his belief Missouri will return to contested status for a chapter in the forthcoming book, Swing State Politics in Presidential Elections. In his chapter, focused on Missouri, he theorizes that Missourians couldn’t relate to former candidates Al Gore, John Kerry, and the current president, causing many to vote for Republican presidential candidates even though most statewide races went to Democrats. The chapter hypothesizes that Clinton is a good fit partially because of her roots in Illinois and Arkansas, and her husbands two victories in Missouri, by comfortable margins, in his presidential bids.