My “Numbers Guy” on the “Missouri Paradox”

Returning once again to the “Missouri Paradox,” that is why Democrats are dominating statewide offices while Republicans are dominating the state House and state Senate.

 

From my “Numbers Guy” 

I agree that money (and being in the majority to raise money), status quo maps, weak statewide Republican candidates and the extra effort in the last weeks of the campaign are all factors in this paradox.  Some definitely more than others: money is significantly more important than say what a candidate does 3 weeks before the end of the election.  But in my opinion, the answer is unquestionably centered in the partisan distribution of voters throughout the state.

 

Look at the top of the ticket for candidates seeking to represent Missouri in 2008 (Governor) and 2010 (US Senate).  In both of those races, the 5 most populated voting authorities (St. Louis City, St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Jackson County, and Kansas City represented between 40-42% of the total votes cast.   In both of those years the Democrat profoundly won, by 10 points in 2010 and 36 points in 2008, those areas.

 

The point is that these heavily populated areas, especially the cities, are going for Democrats up to 84% while in the other counties they are only going for democrats between 30-45%.  Thus, while Democrats get elected to statewide office with regularity, it is because their voting base is the entire state which is basically split 50/50.  On the state senate and representative level, with smaller districts, Democrats in St. Louis city are running in 90% Democratic districts while candidates in say Franklin County are running in 45% Democratic districts.  That 6% deficit (from a 51% win) is incredibly difficult to overcome, so Republicans win a majority in the legislative seats, but don’t compete as well at the state level.

 

I am confident it is the most significant factor explaining how Republicans have the majorities in the legislature while Democrats have the statewide offices.  If the state’s population was redistributed to produce partisan uniformity, every district would be a 50/50 district.

 

Originally in October 29 MOScout.