The 2016 presidential election might be closer than we thought because of some very unusual poll numbers. The strangest and most telling results come from the state of Missouri.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are running neck to neck in the Show Me State, the latest survey by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research for The St. Louis Post-Dispatch indicates. The interesting results of that survey conducted over the weekend of July 23-24 include:
- Hillary might become the first Democrat to carry Missouri since her husband Bill in 1996. The latest poll indicates she is leading by one percent; or 41% to Trump’s 40%. So she has a serious chance.
- Trump has some serious problems in the Midwest; despite the convention, boost he is tied with Hillary in a state that supported Mitt Romney in 2012.
- Trump is not winning over white voters – more than half of whites in Missouri were planning to vote against Trump.
- Libertarian Gary Johnson is going to be a serious factor in Missouri and the Midwest; he got around 9% of the support in the poll.
- Trump has not consolidated the Republican base. One in 10 Missouri Republicans was planning to vote for Johnson.
- Johnson is hurting Trump, virtually no Democrats said they would vote for the Libertarian. One in 10 Republicans was planning to desert to the Libertarian.
- Green Party Candidate Still Stein is not a serious factor. Only one percent of voters backed her.
- Missouri is still up for grabs – the last Missouri Poll – the KDSK/Survey USA gave Trump a 10% lead in the states, RealClear Politics reported.
Why Missouri Matters
Missouri is considered something of a bellwether state because its voters chose the winner of every Presidential election between 1960 and 2008, The Post-Dispatch noted. The only time in the last 56 years, that Missourians did not support the presidential winner was in 2012 when Mitt Romney won the state by a nine percent margin.
The last poll shows Romney’s win might have been a fluke which makes competitive. A possible reason for the Romney win was religion; Missouri is the home of a large number of Mormons including many members of the Community of Christ (formerly the Reformed Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints). Since Romney is a Mormon he presumably had their support.
The poll might expose serious trouble for Trump because it indicates more states; including some supposedly safe red states, might be competitive than was previously thought. Real Clear Politics had listed Missouri in its leaning Trump states earlier in July.
The greatest danger for Trump is that he will have to divert some of his limited resources from more competitive states like Ohio and Florida to shore up his base. That threatens the whole campaign because of Trump’s limited fund raising capacity.
Another major problem for Trump is the ground game which might be critical in states like Missouri. Hillary is well-positioned to wage ground warfare; because she has a large war chest and a substantial campaign organization in place.
Recent news articles indicate that Trump has little or no campaign and limited funds. A Huffington Post story from July 13 indicated that nobody answered the phone at Trump offices in many states. The same story found that there was not even a good phone number for the Trump campaign in a variety of states.
Voter ID Decision Helps Hillary or Does It?
The situation is complicated by the decisions of two federal courts to strike down voter ID laws in North Carolina and Wisconsin. The decisions are expected to make it easier to make it easier for African Americans and lower income people to vote.
That should help Hillary by increasing the African American turnout. Yet it could aid Trump by making it easier for working class whites to vote.
It is not clear if the decisions will affect Missouri; which is in the Eighth Circuit for the US Court of Appeals. The Appeals Court for the Fourth Circuit struck down a North Carolina law that required photo IDs for voters; banned same day voter registration, and restricted early voting, The New York Times reported. While a US District court in Wisconsin struck down residency requirements, and limits on absentee ballots.
Those decisions will certainly help Hillary, particularly in North Carolina. One result of those court rulings might be that Trump shifts his focus to states with smaller nonwhite populations. Another is that he might redouble get out the vote efforts among poorer whites; who might have an easier time reaching the polls.
How “Voter Suppression” could Help Hillary
Trump’s strongest support is from white men without a college degree, a New York Times analysis of Pew Research Center data indicates. He was leading Hillary among that demographic by 37 points; meaning the Obama administration’s opposition to voter ID laws might end up helping Donald.
Clinton is leading Trump among white college-educated females by 31 points; and by 10 points among white men with college degrees, the same analysis noted. That means voter suppression efforts; which are just as likely to keep poor whites as minorities away from the polls, might help Hillary. If Trump does well this fall; we might see Democrats become concerned about “vote fraud,” and Republicans championing “voter rights.”
An unintended side effect of those rulings might be more allegations of voter fraud. That might lead to challenges and court cases like those that marred the 2000 Presidential election. Such an outcome is likely if the election becomes close, which seems possible now.
It looks like it is going to be a very interesting election this year. Some fascinating surprises that might redraw the electoral map are brewing in states like Missouri.