The Difference: Claire McCaskill for U.S. Senate
A lot can change in two years. Just ask Donald Rumsfeld. Or Claire McCaskill. On Election Day 2004, Matt Blunt defeated the Missouri state auditor in the open race to be Missouri's governor. Last night, the same electorate saw her name on the ballot again and this time chose her over incumbent U.S. Sen. Jim Talent.
I've pulled together a simple spreadsheet you can download here that racks the numbers and runs some comparisons. The quickest thing to scan is where McCaskill improved the most, which finds the largest vote share increases in Clark, Scotland, Lewis, Schuyler and Shannon counties. Each sent McCaskill greater than 10 percentage points more than last time around.
Those are some impressive leaps, but perhaps more crucial were the slightly smaller increases she won in larger, still predominately Republican counties like Greene, Jasper and Christian, each of which delivered a considerably larger amount of her overall vote total than in 2004.
I'm far from an expert on Missouri politics (I only lived there two years), but it seems pretty impressive that McCaskill was able to bump her share in Greene county by more than five percentage points. It seems likely that she had a harder time there last time around because Springfield is Matt Blunt's home ballpark, but I wonder what these changes might be able to tell us about the state's political landscape. Certainly, there are all the shake-and-bake explanations we've heard ad nauseum on the cable news for more than a month now, but I suspect a knowledgeable nose could sniff out something fresh here. If you've got one, why don't you give it a shot? Could be fun.