The weight of history or chance?

Because the boundaries of the U.S.A.'s individual states don't move as much as English local constituencies do, it is possible to measure election results over quite long periods of time and pick out certain themes.

For instance, there are six states that every winning candidate since 1972 has won, out of a possible 50 plus Washington D.C.. These are Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee. Not surprisingly four of these states are among the biggest Democrat targets for this year's presidential election.

The state which is most remarkable for swaying with the prevailing political direction is Missouri. This Mid-Western state was won by George W. Bush in 2000 with a majority of 78,786 or 3.24%. With 11 electoral college votes, Bush could not afford to lose Missouri without making gains elsewhere.

However, if we suppose that President Bush could be elected without Missouri in 2004, he would be only the second Republican since 1900 to do so. The other overall winner without Missouri was General Eisenhower in 1956 (the year he was re-elected).

For the Democrats to win without Missouri would be even more historic. The last time they did so was in 1916 with Woodrow Wilson. That was also a re-election. There have been Republicans elected to the presidency in the XIXth century. But since 1856, (the first Democrat versus Republican presidential contest) no Democrat apart from Woodrow Wilson has won without Missouri.
[Updated November 22 2004]

Because Missouri is also hosting an election for (currently Democrat) Governor, one of its (currently Republican) Senators, and the Members of the House of Representatives (currently 4 Democrats and 5 Republicans), this is my pick for the single most interesting contest of the campaign.

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