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Missouri - 8th District

Incumbent -- Jo Ann Emerson (R) ; Running for re-election

Safe Republican
Race Ratings Key
 

CQ Politics rates this race as "Safe," meaning the incumbent party is virtually certain to win the seat.

 

District Information

District Profile from Politics in America

The 8th is Missouri's largest district in size, and some of the state's most bountiful farmland can be found here alongside mountains, forests and Mississippi Valley towns. The district has the state's lowest median income (less than $35,000), and only 14 percent of the 8th's residents have at least a bachelor's degree -- Missouri's smallest percentage.

Agriculture and lead mining fuel the central counties, while the southeast area, dubbed the "bootheel" because of its shape, is a former wheat-growing region that now produces soybeans, corn, cotton and rice. A slowdown in home construction across the country has put lumber jobs, which have featured heavily in the 8th, at risk. High unemployment rates across all sectors are straining the economy.

The northern counties of Phelps and St. Francois, which had relied on light manufacturing and defense subcontracting firms, hope to boost employment and revenue through infrastructure projects. Located on the Mississippi River, Cape Girardeau is the district's most populous city and is a regional hub for education, commerce and health care.

The district includes four-fifths of the 1.5 million-acre Mark Twain National Forest that dots the countryside of southern Missouri. Frequent flooding and earthquakes from the New Madrid fault line that runs through the eastern portion of the district make the 8th a disaster-prone region, and the strength of levees and highways concern local officials and residents. Preparation for smaller floods along the Mississippi is still an annual spring ritual in the border towns.

The 8th spans the political spectrum from solidly Republican counties in the west and in the northeast along the Mississippi River to territory in the bootheel where residents will back Democrats at the local and state level. Voters tend to be conservative on social issues such as abortion and gun control. John McCain carried the 8th with 62 percent of its 2008 presidential vote.

Major Industry

Agriculture, lead mining, lumber

Cities

Cape Girardeau, 37,941; Rolla, 19,559; Poplar Bluff, 17,023

Notable

The nation's mean center of population following the 2010 census remains in the 8th -- it is now northeast of Plato in Texas County.

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