If you are in the market for a battleground state, have I got a deal for you!
You can have your Florida and your Ohio. I got the real deal – the original battleground state – the only one that entered the Union with a legislative compromise bearing it’s name, the one every American child learns about by sixth grade. Our eleven electoral votes would have spared the nation the entire Bush administration in 2000. Bush took the state by 3.5% – a mere 80,000 vote difference…out of 2.3 million ballots cast here in the 2000 presidential election. The Republicans had that 80,000 vote margin because they had the GOTV playbook, and we did not yet have the netroots. What a difference a decade makes.
No Democrat has won the White House without carrying Missouri since the mid-19th century, and Missouri has been carried by every winning presidential candidate in the last 50 years. Let us consider: In my lifetime, we have elected seven presidents; three Democrats and four Republicans, and in every single one of those elections, the state I have always called home, no matter where I was hanging my hat, has been carried by the winner.
I just don’t think it is possible to get more “swing state” than that.
Our Governor’s mansion goes back and forth, and will flip back to the Democrats with the election of Jay Nixon in 2008. Since Matt and the Mrs. don’t live in the mansion anyway, because she “doesn’t like it” (so he commutes in a six-Suburban caravan and dumps a ton of CO2 in the air every single day), Jay’s wife might as well go on in and start measuring for drapes and planning the décor.
Our embarrassing little weasel of a Governor’s legislative signings have taken on a surreal “Passion Play” quality of late – he signs anti-family planning legislation in a Baptist Church sanctuary, yet on another day, he decidedly plays the role of Pontius Pilate, calling for a mandatory death penalty when convictions for certain capital crimes are secured. The Republican majorities in both chambers of the statehouse are the reason everyone outside Missouri thinks we are a bunch of foam-flecked loons, each and every one.
These are the compassionate souls who brought you animal sounds when a Democratic legislator from St. Louis compared the Medicaid cuts of 2005 to a National Geographic special about culling the herd of the weak and the infirm.
Right now, the Missouri congressional delegation is as evenly split as 11 members can be using whole numbers. In the U.S. Senate, we have one of each, and our nine congresspeople are five Republicans and four Democrats. In 2008, the numbers are likely to flip, because the Missouri 06 has a strong Democratic challenger for Sam Graves in former KC mayor Kay Barnes.
Missouri stands on the precipice, and those of us who follow politics have already picked up on the atmospheric changes. 2008 is going to be a battleground year, and Missouri is going to be the quintessential battleground state.
Before y’all write us off as a bunch of quixotic liberals tilting at imposing red windmills, remember that those chuckleheads in charge in Jeff City only seized power in the last decade, and, with the way they have conducted themselves, and the fact that they have passed legislation that directly hurt so many Missourians, their majorities are vulnerable..
And that’s where we come in.