Presidential races offer prediction trends

Wednesday, November 2, 2016
The November 9, 1988 edition of The Monett Times announced the election of George W. Bush as president, as well as the rare election of a Democrat to Barry County office, with Ralph Hendrix winning the sheriff's race.

100 years of local voting shows party strength, surprises

Presidential races in Barry and Lawrence counties historically bring out more voters than usual to the polls, and those elections often set the tone for the down-ballot races.

In the past 100 years, Democrats have carried Barry County only three times. In many cases, the strength of the presidential candidate's popularity will pivot wins in local races, though at times local candidates in turn help the top of the ticket.

Here is an overview of a century of bi-county presidential battles and their effect on local politics:


In 1916, with The Monett Times' founder D.A. Peters still at the helm, the paper printed coverage and cartoons solely in support of Democrat Woodrow Wilson. Though keeping the U.S. out of the war was a major issue, there was more at stake. The biggest issue appeared to be preserving the eight-hour workday, established by the Wilson administration in the 1916 Adamson Act, named for its sponsor, Georgia Congressman William Adamson. Railroad organizations solidly backed limiting the workday. In Monett, the Eight-Hour Club formed. Two weeks before the election, C.H. Hassell, general chairman of the Order of Railway Conductors, spoke to the group and argued for Wilson's re-election. According to an account of the meeting "Mr. Hassell's endorsement was cheered heartily by those present."

Voter turnout of 5,611 ballots in Barry County cast proved a low point for the century locally. Wilson carried Barry County with 2,752 (49 percent), compared to 2,683 for Republican Charles Hughes. The legacy of Theodore Roosevelt's Bull Moose Party run in 1912 gave credibility to third party candidates. Socialist Allan Benson had 148 local votes, with 18 votes split between the Progressive and Socialist Labor candidates. With 739 more people voting, Lawrence County, stuck with Republicans, giving Hughes 3,228 (51 percent) to 2,809 to Wilson. The other three candidates split 313 more votes.

Monett went 643 (60 percent) for Wilson and 386 for Hughes.

Wilson barely carried the state with 50.6 percent or 398,032 votes, compared to 369,339 or 47 percent for Republican Charles Hughes.

This graphic from the Cassville Democrat depicts Franklin Delano Roosevelt winning the 1932 election.

Missouri was pivotal as Wilson won with 277 Electoral College votes.

Democrats swept all the Barry County offices, except for coroner and judge [now called the county commissioner] for the eastern district. The Democratic incumbent for Congress, Perl Decker, won re-election, though Republican Joe Manlove, a longtime Mt. Vernon resident, carried a majority in both Barry and Lawrence counties. Manlove would come back in 1922 to win and served through 1933.


With the World War experience behind it, the mood of the nation in 1920 turned sharply right, providing a national wave for Republican candidates. Republican Warren G. Harding carried Barry County with 5,162 votes (57 percent), compared to 3,736 for Democrat James Cox, 122 for Socialist Eugene Debbs, and 36 for other candidates. The voter turnout of 9,053 was 61 percent higher than four years earlier.

Lawrence County gave 6,092 (61 percent) to Harding, 3,535 to Cox and 216 to Socialist Eugene Debbs, and 94 to three other candidates.

In Monett, Harding won 917 (57 percent) while Cox had 705. A mock election at Monett High School predicted Harding as the winner in a tighter race, 117-112.

Harding had over 60 percent of the popular vote, the greatest percentage since 1820, yielding 404 Electoral College votes.


This graphic depicts Calvin Coolidge winning the 1924 election.

Voting levels in 1924 dropped by 20 percent and the parties had to share winners across the board.

Republican Calvin Coolidge received the lion's share of Barry County votes with 4,065 (48 percent), compared to 3,606 for Democrat John W. Davis, 797 for Robert LaFollette who ran on the Progressive Party ticket, and 12 for the Socialist and Socialist Labor party candidates.

In Monett, Davis edged Coolidge 787 to 781 for Coolidge, while LaFollette received 338 votes or nearly 18 percent.

In 1924, Barry County went split its offices by party. Democrats J.T. Burgess, seeking the prosecuting attorney's job, Hugh Brixey, running for sheriff, and Western Judge Eden won. Eden squeaked by with a 93-vote margin, the others by several hundred votes.

Apparently, local interest was high in the governor's race. The Monett Times' publisher Pearl Peters reported in her "Ramblings" column, "The first Sunday after election a Cassville citizen is to jump off a bridge into Flat Creek with his clothes on. If [Democrat George] Nelson is elected, Jim Jefferson will jump off the bridge, and if [Republican Sam] Baker is elected, Ab Galloway is to be the performer. The Cassville Democrat says there will be a large crowd present." Nelson won by 14,000 votes with less than 49 percent in a four-way race that included Socialist and Socialist Labor party candidates.


In 1928, Republican Herbert Hoover rode a wave that carried Missouri by 171,518 votes or more than 55 percent. Democrat Alfred Smith had 44 percent. According to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, reported by The Monett Times, "The GOP in Missouri has not so crushingly defeated the Democrats since 1920."

In Barry County, Hoover had 5,681 or almost 65 percent. to Smith's 3,078. Hoover also carried Lawrence County 6,268 to 3,660 for Smith. The Monett vote gave Hoover 1,398 or 67 percent, while Smith had 686. Every Republican won in countywide races in both Barry and Lawrence counties.


In 1932, "After an absence of 12 years, Missouri has returned to the Democratic column, where it once was a fixture. The state gave Franklin Roosevelt, Democratic candidate for president, a plurality of 400,000 votes," The Monett Times reported.

As for local balloting, The Times reported, "Vote tabulators stated that never before to their knowledge had there been so many straight ballots cast -- that whole precincts turned in unscratched ballots. Absentee ballots were unusually numerous."

In Barry County, where 10,587 voted, Roosevelt had 5,957 (56 percent) to 4,497 for Hoover and 103 for Socialist Norman Thomas.

In Lawrence County, with 10,732 ballots cast, Roosevelt had 60 percent of the vote, beating Hoover 6,411-4,146.

"Monett went Democratic by a majority of 348 votes," The Monett Times reported. "Monett is normally Democratic. A total of 1,986 votes were cast, of which 1,167 were Democratic and 819 Republican."

Roosevelt had 1,167 votes in Monett to 819 for Hoover,

The only Republicans who won in Barry County were constables in McDonald and Purdy townships, and one of those was running unopposed. In Lawrence County, only the Republican surveyor, Cecil Crawford, won, and he ran unopposed.

Roosevelt won nearly 64 percent of the Missouri vote and 472 or 89 percent of the Electoral College votes.


The November 4, 1936 edition of The Monett Times informed local residents of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's election to a second term.

After unprecedented federal involvement in local affairs, from works programs that channelized Kelly Creek, a Monett center for managing homeless people and work provided through the Civilian Conservation Corps, as well as some less successful programs, local voters in 1936 split over support for the Roosevelt administration, though statewide Democrats mounted a landslide wide.

Kansas Governor Alf Landon edged Roosevelt in both local counties. In Barry County, Landon prevailed with 5,874 to Roosevelt's 5,708. In Lawrence County, Landon had 6,171 to FDR's 6,149, a 22-vote edge.

Both Lawrence and Barry County gave Democrats the wins as sheriff and county judge (commissioner) for the western District, the rest of the countywide offices going to Republicans. Monett, now including Forest Park, did not follow the county trend, possibly since more of the New Deal programs focused on the town, while rural residents still felt neglected. Roosevelt received 1,625 (58 percent), compared to 1,183 for Smith.

Roosevelt won almost 61 percent of the statewide vote as Democrats captured 71 U.S. Senate seats and 293 of 435 House seats.


With war clouds rumbling in both Europe and Asia, Republicans tightened their grip on the local scene in 1940.

Barry County gave Republican Wendell Willkie 6,482 votes (56 percent) to 5,137 for Roosevelt. Lawrence County gave Wilkie 7,233 (58 percent) to 5,225 for Roosevelt. Monett followed its pattern from 1936, backing Roosevelt 1,568 (54 percent) to 1,333 for Wilkie, though the Marshall Hill precinct went for Wilkie.

In county races, Republicans captured all the open seats in both Barry and Lawrence counties.

Statewide, Roosevelt won an unprecedented third term with 52 percent of the vote. Nationally, the election was a blowout, as FDR had 449 Electoral College votes to 82 for the Republicans.


Deep in the war and squeezed by rationing, voters in 1944 were prepared to vote Republican for president and for the local leaders who helped them manage.

Barry County voters gave New York Governor and Democrat Tom Dewey 5,537 votes (59 percent) to 3,764 for FDR. The margin was even wider in Lawrence County, where Dewey had 6,481 (64 percent) to 3,608 for Roosevelt.

Even in Monett, Republicans gained ground. Local voters sided with Dewey 1,311 to 1,257 for FDR.

Both counties again gave all the local offices to Republicans.

Roosevelt won nationally with more than 53 percent of the vote but 81 percent of the Electoral College votes with 432. Dewey blamed his loss solely on the war.


For the first time, a Missourian ran for the presidency, and local voters, especially in Monett, had seen Democrat Harry Truman many times. Truman had even stayed at the Monett home of Mayor V.B. Hall several times. Nonetheless, local voters held loyally to Republicans they backed for the previous 12 years.

After a vigorous local advertising campaign by Republicans that went unanswered, Barry County voters sided with New York Governor Thomas Dewey for a second time, 4,764 to 4,690 for Truman. In Lawrence County, the margin was much sharper, 4,930 (almost 52 percent) for Dewey to 4,614 for Truman.

Following the three-time trend for Roosevelt, Monettans rallied for Harry, who had recently visited town and dedicated the new American Legion Home. Monettans supported the Democratic incumbent with 1,568 (55 percent) to 1,272 for Dewey.

"President Harry S. Truman, a Missourian with the stoutest fighting heart in American political history, carried a strife-torn Democratic party singlehandedly to victory over what seemed to be insurmountable odds in the presidential campaign," wrote Jack Laughlin, managing editor of The Monett Times.

Truman's popularity helped propel Democrat Troy Wilson, back into the job of Barry County sheriff he first held by appointment. Dale Brattin of Wheaton also captured the western county judge job for Democrats. William Pinnell, running unopposed as a Democrat for a probate judge job, faced opposition by county officials on the grounds that he was too young to serve.

In Lawrence County, Democrat J.C. Bowman upset six-year incumbent western county judge [commissioner] O.F. Tate to record the only dent in an otherwise solid Republican front for county offices.

Truman won Missouri with just more than 49 percent of the vote to carry the election with 303 Electoral College ballots.


"Interest is running high in Monett on the eve of the 1952 presidential election and many observers are predicting a record vote here as well as over the rest of the state and the nation," reported The Monett Times on Nov. 3, 1952.

Predictions held true of 3,145 people voted in Monett, up from the old record of 2,840 in the 1948 general election.

Republican Dwight Eisenhower, called by The Monett Times "one of the greatest military heroes in American history," carried Barry County with 6,223 (61 percent) to 3,918 for Democrat Adlai Stevenson. In Lawrence County, Ike had 7,615 (65 percent) to 4,078 for Stevenson.

In Monett, Ike prevailed with 1,871 (59 percent) to 1,274 for Stevenson.

Republicans swept all the offices in both counties. The GOP failed to sweep the statewide offices, but Ike captured 55 percent and the statewide vote and 442 or 82 percent of the Electoral College ballots


This graphic depicts a Durward G. Hall ad for election to Congress.

With the nation experiencing practically unprecedented economic growth and post-war prosperity, local voters had no problem sticking with a winning team in 1956.

Though turnout and victory margins were less than in 1952, incumbent Dwight Eisenhower sailed to victory in both counties and nationwide.

In Barry County, Ike won 5,826 (58 percent) to 4,241 against repeat Democratic challenger Adlai Stevenson. In Lawrence County, Ike had 6,983 (60 percent) to Stevenson's 4,596.

Republicans took all the open seats in Barry County, except a magistrate judge position where Democrat James Sater ran without opposition. Sheriff Bill Hemphill of Purdy won re-election with an even higher vote total than Eisenhower, tallying 5,847 votes (60 percent).

In Monett, Eisenhower received 1,390 (59 percent) to 976 for Stevenson.

Missouri was one of only seven states that Stevenson claimed, taking 50.1 percent of the vote to Ike's 49.9 percent, a difference of less than 4,000 votes. Eisenhower won nationally with 57 percent and 86 percent of the Electoral College vote.


This graphic depicts a cartoon from the 1960 campaign season.

Traditionally Republican local counties predictably stayed with their familiar roots in spite of a national wave for change in 1960. In many ways, this was the first modern election, with televised presidential debates and more advertising for national candidates on a local level.

Bucking the statewide trend, Barry Countians voted 6,706 (63 percent) for Republican Richard Nixon and 3,919 to Democrat John F. Kennedy. With 12,889 voting, or 2,264 more than Barry County, Lawrence County leaned more heavily to the right, giving Nixon 8,406 (65 percent) to Kennedy's 4,483.

Monett gave a 60 percent margin to Nixon, 1,431-948. The Monett vote of 3,270 was considered a record.

At this point, the rule of thumb that applies to this day took shape: Republicans seeking to counteract a heavier Democratic vote in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas must pull at least 67 percent in southwest Missouri to win statewide. Kennedy outpolled Nixon by 10,000 votes to carry the state and victory with 303 Electoral College votes.

The biggest casualty for Democrats was the loss of Congressman Charlie Brown, who was upset by Republican Durward Hall after two terms. Brown was the last Democrat to represent the Seventh District.

Republicans scored big in Barry County, taking every seat though the western judge [commissioner] hung in the balance for a week before incumbent Emory Smith of Monett emerged with an 82-vote edge over Chester Royer of Wheaton, after the absentee ballots were counted. All five Republicans seeking office in Lawrence County sailed to wins.


The popularity of Jack Kennedy and the national trauma of his death had a significant impact on voters a year later. That, and what were considered extreme views by the GOP candidate, including the use of nuclear weapons in the Vietnam war, tipped Barry County to the Democrats for the first time since the New Deal. Democrat Lyndon Johnson secured 5,307 (53 percent) to win over Republican Barry Goldwater's 4,757.

Monett went for Johnson 1,759 (55 percent) to 1,431.

Democratic candidate for Governor Warren Hearnes led a sweep of state offices but the wave did not extend far into local support.

Both the incumbent Republican northern and southern county judges [commissioners] fell to Democrats in Barry County.

Lawrence County also tipped to Johnson, 6,383 (51 percent) to 6,047. The margin did not extend to county races, where Republicans won all the positions.


The increasingly contentious Vietnam war, civil rights battles and the assassinations for Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. left the nation as a whole and Democrats in particular in disarray, well positioned for a Republican comeback locally.

The GOP ticket headed by Richard Nixon swept over Barry County, winning 5,537 (62 percent) over Democrat Hubert Humphrey with 3,398. The edge was even wider in Lawrence County, where Nixon received 6,834 (65 percent) to 3,710 for the Democratic ticket.

Republicans won all the local positions in both counties.

Monettans voted 1,728 (60 percent) for Nixon and 1,127 for Humphrey.

Nixon edged Humphrey by 1 percent to take Missouri's Electoral College votes. Nixon had 43 percent of the national vote to win, reduced by George Wallace winning nearly 14 percent and 46 Electoral College votes in a third party bid. Nixon had 301 Electoral College ballots of 56 percent.


With Democrats viewed as swinging as far to the left with standard-bearer George McGovern as Republicans had moved right with Goldwater in 1964, local Republicans had little trouble holding their ground in the 1972 general election. Nationally Nixon carried every state but Massachusetts, winning 61 percent of the public vote and 520 electoral votes, besting Eisenhower in 1952.

Barry County went for Nixon with 6,242 (59 percent) to 4,252 for the Democrats. All five county races went to Republicans. Lawrence Counties gave Nixon 7,550 (65 percent) to 4,101 for McGovern. Only one Democrat even attempted to run in Lawrence County, Max Heim of Monett, and he lost by almost 1,000 votes to incumbent James Tate of Pierce City for the western commissioner's job.

Monett gave 2,162 (71 percent) to Nixon and 888 to McGovern.


Republicans hung on to local control in the 1976 vote despite a better-than-usual organized Democratic campaign, bolstered by popular candidates statewide and locally.

In the closest presidential race on record, Barry County stuck with Republican Gerald Ford by seven votes, 5,053 to 5,046 for Democrat Jimmy Carter, a comeback win that didn't materialize until the 722 absentee ballots were counted.

Lawrence County gave Ford a better reception with 5,784 (52 percent) to 5,315 for Carter.

Monett sided with Ford, 1,456 (55 percent) to 1,208 for Carter.

Carter took Missouri with 51 percent. He gained just over 50 percent of the popular vote and 297 electoral votes. The push provided by Carter helped Democrats "Walking" Joe Teadale, Dick Rabbitt and James Kirkpatrick secure the governor, lieutenant governor and secretary of state positions.

Locally, two Republicans and one Democrat, all incumbents, returned to office in Barry County. Republicans claimed the two open seats in Lawrence County.


With local advertising dominated by down-ballot candidates, local political leaders counted on their rooted support, which came through for Republicans. Ronald Reagan secured 51 percent of the popular vote, but a large majority of the counties to win for the GOP, including the entire southwest third of the state.

In Barry County, Reagan won 7,038 (63 percent) to 4,193 for the Democrats. Republicans took every local office. In Lawrence County, Reagan captured 7,921 (63 percent) to 4,670 for Carter. There was only one contested race in Lawrence County, where Republican David Tatum won the sheriff's job with 70 percent of the vote.


Experiencing the most peaceful decade socially and internationally since the 1950s did not give Democrats much momentum for overturning the apple cart on the Republicans, even if Walter Mondale made history by picking Geraldine Ferraro as the first woman on a major party ticket.

Ronald Reagan improved on his earlier showing in Missouri, taking all but four counties, including the solidly Democratic boot heel, winning 60 percent of the statewide vote. Mondale only won his own state of Minnesota. Reagan had 59 percent of the popular vote and 525 or 97 percent of the Electoral College ballots.

In Barry County, Reagan again bested his 1980 showing with 7,683 (69 percent) to Mondale's 3,483. He did it again in Lawrence County, securing 8,370 (69 percent), the highest county total ever seen for a presidential candidate, to 3,720 for the Democrats.

All the countywide positions went to Republicans, putting the GOP back in control by a two-to-one margin on the Barry County commission. The same pattern repeated at the state level, except for the lieutenant governor's race, where Harriett Woods hung on as the only surviving Democrat.


Monett saw its first presidential candidate since Harry Truman in 1948 when George H.W. Bush arrived at Monett High School in February 1988. It was enough of a tip of the hat to energize local Republicans to hold control of local races that year.

Bush captured 52 percent of the Missouri vote, including the southwest third of the state, on his way to winning 53 percent of the national vote and 426 or 79 percent of the Electoral College votes.

The Bush visit helped him secure 1,930 votes (75 percent) in Monett alone, while Democrat Michael Dukakis received 655.

In Barry County, Bush won 7,231 votes (63 percent) and Dukakis received 4,210. Republicans won two of three contested seats for county office, but incumbent Sheriff Jimmy Hopkins fell to Democrat Ralph Hendrix in the wake of a scandal over a death in the county jail.

In Lawrence County, Bush received 6,911 (61 percent) to 4,432 for the Democrats. Republicans claimed victory in the only contested race.

The big race at stake was the Seventh District Congressional seat with the retirement of Gene Taylor. Republican Mel Hancock grabbed the trophy in both counties and 53 percent across the district.


With a governor from a neighboring state heading the ballot, local voters felt pressure for regional loyalty in addition to the status. In the end, The Monett Times reported, "Bi-county voters bucked the national trend on key federal and state races, sticking to traditional Republican sentiments in federal and state races, but going with unexpected strength for Democrats in hotly contested local races."

With 12,575 votes cast, the first time at that volume, Barry County voters gave Republican Bush 5,565 (44 percent), and Democratic Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton 4,791 (38 percent). Independent Ross Perot, the first significant third-party candidate since 1968, claimed 2,099.

The closer margin at the top of the ticket was enough support for Democrat Nolan McNeill to prevail in the state representative race inside redrawn district lines. Democratic Sheriff Ralph Hendrix also won re-election.

The election was memorable also as the last race where paper ballots were used in Barry County. As a result, the final numbers were not tallied until 8 a.m. the day after the election.

In Lawrence County, with 12,891 votes cast, the GOP took first with 5,608 (44 percent) to 4,666 for Clinton and 2,570 for Perot. In down-ballot contests, Republican Sheriff David Tatum prevailed in the only contested re-election bid. The redrawn 133rd District state representative race also went to the GOP.

In Monett, Bush received 1,400 votes (50 percent) to 808 for Clinton, plus 569 for Perot.

The three-party split of votes proved pivotal for Clinton to claim Missouri with 44 percent of the vote to 34 percent for Bush. Clinton won 43 percent of the national vote and 370 or 69 percent of the Electoral College ballots.


With sheriffs' races on the line in both counties, local voters had motivation to head to the polls and wrestle with national candidates.

Local Republicans improved their showing from four years earlier in Barry County, giving the GOP ticket headed by Senator Bob Dole 5,855 (just under 50 percent), while Clinton received 4,352 (37 percent) for the Democrats. Ross Perot was back as an independent and pulled 1,494 votes away from the major parties.

In Lawrence County, Republicans received 6,099 (just under 50 percent) while Clinton had 4,465 (45 percent) and Perot pulled 1,613 ballots.

While Republican sheriffs won in both counties, Democrats Mel Carnahan, running for governor, and Roger Wilson, running for lieutenant governor, won locally. Democrat J.H. "Red" Edens also claimed the southern commissioner's job in Barry County.

This time, Clinton took Missouri with 47 percent of the votes and 49 percent of the national vote.


Going into what pundits called "the closest election in 40 years" for the presidency, both parties campaigned hard going into the longest race on record for the chief executive.

In Barry County, the GOP ticket headed by George W. Bush won 7,885 votes (64 percent) to 4,135 (33 percent for Democrat Al Gore. In Lawrence County, Bush received 8,305 (66 percent) to 4,235 for Gore.

Monett voters gave 1,986 to Bush (65 percent) and 991 to Gore. Ralph Nader had 55 votes, while four other candidates split 28 more votes.

All the incumbents in Barry and Lawrence countywide races won re-election, including Democrat J.H. "Red" Edens for Barry County's southern commissioner.

The shocker in the state races was the defeat of U.S. Senator John Ashcroft by the deceased governor, Democrat Mel Carnahan, by more than 41,000 votes. Carnahan's widow accepted the appointment to the position. The defeat positioned Ashcroft to take the job of attorney general in the Bush administration.

Bush would eventually win the presidency with 48 percent of the popular vote, less than Gore, but with 271 electoral votes, thanks to the ruling on the Florida recount. Bush won Missouri with 50 percent, 79,000 votes ahead of Gore.


In wartime, Americans generally stick with their leadership. That axiom held for the 2004 vote, as George W. Bush swept Missouri for re-election. Similar sentiments helped propel U.S. Senator Christopher Bond to an unprecedented fourth term.

Bush carried Barry County with 9,599 (69 percent) to 4,223 (30 percent) for Democrat John Kerry. In Lawrence County, Bush had 11,194 (71 percent) to 4,506 (28 percent) for Kerry. The incumbent president carried every precinct in both counties. Bush carried Monett with 2,418 (72 percent) to 935 for the Democrats.

Republicans swept the races in both counties as well. That included Eddie Davison of Shell Knob taking the southern Commissioner job in Barry County back from 13-year incumbent J.H. "Red" Edens.

Republicans in state races, led by Matt Blunt for governor, also carried the local counties.

Bush won nationally with 51 percent of the vote and 286 or 53 percent of the Electoral College ballots.


In a repeat of the 1956 battle for Missouri's Electoral College votes, by the same razor-thin margin, local Republicans contributed to Republican John McCain edging out eventual winner Barack Obama to claim the state. Locally, the Republicans held on to most of their control.

In Barry County, McCain stood tall with 9,758 (67 percent) while Obama received 4,630. Lawrence County followed the percentages with a slightly higher vote count, giving McCain 11,263 (nearly 68 percent) to 5,097 for Obama.

The big prize in Barry County was Democrat Wayne Hendrix recaptured the southern commissioner seat from Eddie Davison. Republicans captured the other two open seats.

Republican incumbents swept Lawrence County.

In Monett, the McCain ticket received 2,294 (68 percent) to 1,067 for the Democrats. Libertarians, Constitution and Independent Party candidates split another 53 votes.

McCain mustered 49.4 percent of the statewide vote to beat Obama by less than 4,000 votes for the Missouri prize. Obama won nationally with 53 percent of the vote and 365 electoral ballots, 68 percent of the total.


Second runs for president give the incumbent's party an opportunity to cement their party's strength, while the opposition whittles away its competition. Republicans tried to do just that locally in 2012 while Obama held together his base for a strong national showing.

Republicans retook all but three counties in Missouri to give standard-bearer Mitt Romney the state prize with 54 percent.

With about 1,000 fewer voters casting ballots than in 2008, Barry County went to Romney 9,832 (71 percent) to 3,667 for Obama. There were only two local races where incumbents, the Republican sheriff and Democratic southern commissioner, both won.

In Lawrence County, with 605 fewer people voting, Romney upped the Republican showing to 11,421 (72 percent) to 4,017 for the Democrats. Republicans also swept both contested races.

The big prize statewide was for the U.S. Senate seat, where incumbent Claire McCaskill dismantled Republican Todd Akin statewide, even though Akin won 54 percent of the Barry County vote and 55 percent of the Lawrence County vote, far less than the 1960 formula dictated he would need for a victory.

Obama won nationally with 51 percent of the popular vote and 332 Electoral College votes.


Historical trends suggest every reason to see a very high voter turnout on Nov. 8, especially for local Republicans. A low turnout harkens back to 1916 and a Democratic win in Barry County.

Though that seems unlikely, considering the organization of Republicans in Barry and Lawrence counties today, compared to Democrats, both the sheriff's race in Barry County and the state representative race in Lawrence County offer down-ballot motivation for voters. Hotly contested races for governor and U.S. Senate may help drive the totals on the national ticket.

Stay tuned.

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