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Presidential Candidates Likely to Focus on Missouri, a Bellwether State

Aug. 6, 2008

Story Contact:  Kelsey Jackson, (573) 882-8353,

COLUMBIA, Mo. – In every presidential election since 1904 with the exception of the 1956 election, Missouri has voted for the winner of the election and earned the nickname of a bellwether state. University of Missouri political experts are available to discuss the importance of Missouri as a bellwether state in this year’s presidential election.
        “There is no other state like Missouri,” said Marvin Overby, professor and Frederick A. Middlebush Chair in political science. “Missouri is the southernmost northern state, northernmost southern state, easternmost western state and westernmost eastern state. It is geographically and demographically in the middle. “It’s in a unique position that tends to reflect well where the rest of the country is politically.”  

        Unlike Illinois, there is no single central urban location in Missouri, and the state is much more balanced between urban and rural, said Overby. Compared with other states, Missouri is average in income, education and age. For these reasons, Missouri has become a good indicator of the nation’s political attitudes and the presidential candidates will not ignore this, said Overby.  

        “Since the Civil War and the issue of slavery, Missouri has always been in the position as a bellwether state, and this year is no different,” Overby said. “Presidential candidates are likely to make more stops in the state and test their messages in Missouri. Missouri is a pivotal state. If you win Missouri, you win the White House.”

        MU faculty members that are available to discuss Missouri as a bellwether state are listed below.

L. Marvin Overby, professor of political science
Contact information:  Office phone—573-882-2130  E-mail—

John Petrocik, professor and chair of political science
Contact information:  Office phone—573-882-2843  E-mail—

Jay Dow, associate professor of political science
Contact information:  Office Phone—573-882-0047  E-mail—

Peverill Squire, professor of political science
Contact information:  Office phone—573-882-0097  E-mail—