SPRINGFIELD, Mo.- It’s finally upon us. Tomorrow is primary day in Missouri. While the Republican contest has commanded the attention of the nation, the Democratic contest is truly heating up.
Fresh off his upset victory in last week’s Michigan primary, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders takes his campaign to friendlier territory in the Midwest and the industrial north after suffering numerous losses to Fmr. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in throughout the south. To date, Mrs. Clinton has won 14 contests to Mr. Sanders’ nine; Tuesday’s voting will decide the outcome of five contests across the country: Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Illinois, and Missouri.
When examining the Democratic contest in Missouri specifically, there are two points to consider; past results and socioeconomic geography.
By past results, we’re specifically referring to the 2008 contest between then Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. In that contest, Mr. Obama defeated Mrs. Clinton with 49% of the vote to her 47%, despite only carrying five counties and St. Louis City. Mr. Obama dominated the “college counties” of Nodaway and Boone, the homes of Northwestern Missouri State University and the University of Missouri-Columbia, respectively. Mr. Obama also carried the large urban centers of of St. Louis City and Jackson County (Kansas City). Mrs. Clinton won everywhere else, yet it still wasn’t enough.
Eight years later, in 2016, Mrs. Clinton finds herself once again contesting a Missouri presidential primary, yet the odds are more likely in her favor this time.
Consider other contests already held this election cycle, in those, Mrs. Clinton has dominate both the black and Hispanic votes, often by wide margins. She’s also dominated Mr. Sanders among both rural and elderly voters. Mr. Sanders, on the other hand, has demolished Mrs. Clinton among youth of all races and middle age whites.
If those trends continue to hold, one can imagine that Mrs. Clinton will perform much better in St. Louis County and St. Louis City, both of which are dominated by minority voters. Mrs. Clinton only carried 27% of the vote here in 2008, she’ll fare much better here tomorrow. Clinton will also have a more natural advantage in southeastern Missouri and the Ozark Plateau, which is largely comprised of rural whites; a Clinton strong suit.
Mr. Sanders strongest support should come from Adair, Boone, Nodaway, and St. Charles counties, all of which contain either a university or a sizable suburban sprawl. Kansas City suburban counties of Clay and Platte could also come into play, if they do, it’s a likely to be a great night for Mr. Sanders.
However, it’s our view that the Democratic race for Missouri will be won or lost in the urban centers of Kansas City and St. Louis. Clinton is favored in both metros, yet if Mr. Sanders can keep her margin of victory to a minimum in the cities, he’ll have a real chance to make a run at a statewide victory by carrying a collection of lesser-populated counties.
The key to victory tomorrow will be the margins in the cities. Remember that.
Tuesday’s vote will determine the allocation of Missouri’s 73 Democratic delegates. The latest Missouri poll, conducted by the Democratic opinion research firm, Public Policy Polling (PPP), shows Mr. Sanders with a 47%-46% lead over Mrs. Clinton.
24th State Solutions