In the End, Pivotal Races Tipped to Democrats
During the campaign, McCaskill crisscrossed rural parts of the state in her blue RV, reaching out to counties long ignored by Democrats. Her win was foreshadowed early Tuesday evening when results for Greene County came in. Talent had hoped to break 60 points in that traditional Republican stronghold in the southwest of the state. In a last-bid effort to court his base, he appeared in the county last week with President Bush, who told supporters Democrats "don't have a plan to win" the war in Iraq.
But Talent carried only 54 percent of the vote in Greene County, 5,000 votes fewer than he'd taken in his narrow 2002 victory. McCaskill, who'd been beaten 2 to 1 in some rural areas in her narrow 2004 gubernatorial loss, captured 43 percent of the vote in Greene and captured 4-to-1 margins in urban areas.
Exit polling showed that 83 percent of voters said the economy was "extremely important" or "very important" in determining their vote. Iraq came in second at 62 percent. There was also a high correlation between approval of Bush and support for Talent. Bush's approval rating in the Show Me State is in the low 40s.
"The headwind was just very, very strong this year," Talent said last night. McCaskill told her supporters that "the great state of Missouri" has spoken" and "... they said, 'We want change.'" Angie C. Marek
Tennessee: Democrats Make Inroads but Fail to Capture Seat
Democratic Rep. Harold Ford Jr., a moderate scion of a famed political family, performed better than some expected, but fell short in his bid to capture the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Majority Leader Bill Frist, a two-term Republican.
Though Ford climbed back from a double-digit handicap in most final polls, it wasn't enough to defeat Republican Bob Corker, the former mayor of Chattanooga who ran more television adsmostly negativethan any candidate nationwide from August to November. The most incendiary featured a blond woman boasting of meeting Ford "at a Playboy party," and another accused Ford of wanting to give "abortion pills" to schoolgirls. The Democrats attacked Corker with ads questioning whether emergency calls had gone unanswered during his mayoral reign.
"I love my country more than I love this process," Ford said in his Wednesday morning concession, "... I still think there's a better way for America ... to conduct its campaigns."
Exit polling showed that Ford's strategy of courting religious votershe decried gay marriage, discussed Jesus Christ, and ran an advertisement filmed in his childhood churchwas not as successful as he might have hoped. A majority of churchgoers supported Corkerincluding roughly 61 percent of those who said they worshiped more than once a week. Voters in counties in and surrounding Nashville, however, supported Ford in numbers greater than pundits had predicted.
Frist, on hand election night with Corker in Chattanooga, praised the Republican for being a "citizen legislator." Corker, a self-made millionaire, built a successful construction company before going into politics. Angie C. Marek
Pennsylvania: Big Loss for High-Ranking Senate Republican