by Matthew Patane
Missouri’s status as a swing state was established for a long time come election season, with the state voting for the candidate who went on to win the presidency all but twice in the last century.
Since the 2008 election where the Republican candidate — Arizona Sen. John McCain — won the state with about 5,000 votes, Missouri has lost its swing-state status, at least at the presidential level. The movement toward a more conservative voting base has been reflected on the state level as well with the election of large Republican majorities in both the state House and Senate.
With this shift many political scientists, reporters and candidates — including incumbent President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney — have written Missouri off as a swing and battleground state.
Neither Obama nor Romney has put up a substantial effort to campaign in Missouri during the 2012 election cycle, leaving much of the campaigning up to local groups and offices. Recent polls collected by three agencies, including one by Rasmussen Reports, show Romney with anywhere from a 6- to 14-point lead over Obama in the state. A Real Clear Politics average of these polls shows Romney with a 10.4-point lead.
The lack of campaigning from either presidential candidate is mirrored by a significant lack of campaign ads from Obama and Romney. While Missouri candidates for U.S. Senate and statewide offices continue to saturate the airwaves with their own ads, neither presidential candidate has sought to reserve air time on Missouri TV stations.
Officials at three mid-Missouri TV stations have said they have received no ad contracts reserving air time for either Obama or Romney, and they do not expect to, marking a significant step down since the 2008 race.
The lack of ad reservations is reflected statewide with no or minimal ad buys existing in much of the state. Numbers collected by the Washington Post show that while Romney spent about $127,000 to run ads in Missouri earlier in the election cycle, Obama has not spent a dime in the state on his own political ads.
This is in stark contrast to the 2008 race where more than $21 million was spent on ads in Missouri, according to ad spending numbers collected by CNN.
About $11.2 million of this sum came from the Obama campaign with McCain spending about $7.7 million. The remaining sum came from ad buys made by independent groups, such as various campaign and political action committees.