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Swing States Prepare for 2012, Redistricting

Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images
President Barack Obama came close to winning Missouri in the 2008 presidential race. Democrats might hold their convention in St. Louis in 2012, and the Show Me State will retain battleground status in the next cycle given competitive contests on the ballot.

The Ohio GOP’s bank account is healthy following the last cycle, but the Ohio Democrats had just $55,000 in the bank as of Nov. 22.


Obama won Nevada by 12 points in 2008, thanks in part to the state Democratic Party’s ability to increase its voter registration advantage by 100,000. Two years later, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid won re-election despite being among the most vulnerable incumbents in the country — the result of an impressive get-out-the-vote effort and a divisive GOP nominee.

Republican Sharron Angle’s candidacy split the state GOP — some concluded she was too out of the mainstream to support while conservatives felt she would represent their views in the Senate.

The state party had been moving to the right and shifted further by ousting moderate state Sen. Bill Raggio from his Minority Leader position just after the election. That was punishment for his outspoken criticism of Angle and new, more conservative Senators. Raggio had been the GOP Senate leader since 1983.

Despite Angle’s disappointing performance against Reid, Republicans were able to win back the 3rd district and remain confident they will hold Sen. John Ensign’s seat. Ensign is running despite the Senate Ethics Committee investigation of his actions surrounding an extramarital affair he had with a former staffer. Several Republicans are expected to challenge him in the primary if he stays in the race.

The state GOP began preparations on Nov. 3 for an early 2012 presidential caucus that will have binding results, a shift from 2008 when Mitt Romney won but delegates to the Republican National Convention were not forced to vote according to the caucus results. Now Republicans vying to take on Obama will be paying extra attention to Nevada, and the state party believes it will help close the voter registration gap.

The state is expected to gain a fourth House seat in reapportionment next year. The Democrat-controlled Legislature will draw the new districts, but Republican Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval can veto plans he finds unsatisfactory. The new map could affect the safety of the 1st and 2nd districts and the competitiveness of the swingy 3rd district.

Both state parties have healthy bank accounts heading into the next cycle.


A lot is at stake in the Show Me State during the next election cycle. Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and Gov. Jay Nixon are up for re-election and are seen as vulnerable, and the state may lose a seat in its House delegation in redistricting.

Missouri Republicans had a good year in 2010: In addition to Rep. Roy Blunt winning the open Senate seat and former state Rep. Vicky Hartzler defeating longtime Rep. Ike Skelton (D), Republicans grew their majorities in both chambers of the state Legislature. Former state party Chairwoman Ann Wagner is making her bid for chairwoman of the Republican National Committee on the way the battleground state has shifted toward Republicans in the past decade.

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