Missouri Turnout May Reflect National Mood

Gazing into the nation's crystal ball.

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Missouri voters have a remarkable track record of looking into the American zeitgeist and reporting it back with accuracy. In every presidential election from 1904 to 2004, with one exception (1956), Missourians have picked the winner.

In the primary last week, the results again mimicked the country at large. Obama and Clinton nearly tied in the popular vote; in the end Obama edged out Clinton by 1 percent. The Republican race reflected the divided field as well: John McCain won with 33 percent of the vote, followed closely by Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney.

Vote breakdown. In the Democratic race, state exit polls showed that Obama won among 18- to 29-year-olds by 35 percent; Clinton won the above-60 bloc by 25 percent. Black Missourians voted for Obama by a 6-to-1 margin over Clinton. Independents favored the Illinois senator by nearly a 2-to-1 margin.

Distinctions also emerged on the basis of income and education, as they have in primaries elsewhere. Compared with Clinton, Obama received significantly more support from college-educated and affluent voters. He also outpolled Clinton in Kansas City and the suburbs of St. Louis. Clinton, for her part, performed well among individuals who cited only a high-school diploma or less, as well as among voters living in rural regions, such as the southwestern portion of the state.

Missouri's bellwether nature left the nation with a possible look at general election turnout. About 235,000 more people voted in the Democratic primary than in the Republican one, perhaps presaging an advantage for Democrats in November.