Missouri is set to have its 2016 primary March 15. On the surface, the primaries are where voters can select their preferred candidate from the current runners. However, by selecting a candidate voters are also designating which candidate the states’ delegates are committed to.
The Journal polled 100 students on what political issues matter to them. The economy, college affordability and employment were among the top concerns of Webster students.
Missouri is a winner-takes-all state for the GOP if the candidate takes over 50 percent of the votes. Less that 50 percent splits the parties delegates proportionally. Delegates for the Democratic party are always split proportionally. Political science adjunct professor William Hall said said that things can change at any time.
“There are always ways things can change,” Hall said. “The rules can always change.”
Hall said each party is responsible for selecting their delegates.
“Each national party determines the method that will be used in delegate selection and it depends on the particular state,” Hall said. “There’s not really one umbrella, cookie cutter way in which that’s done.”
The delegates then go to either the Democratic National Convention from July 25-28 or the Republican National Convention from July 18-21 where they vote to decide on the two presidential candidates that will run in the 2016 election.
According to the Missouri Democratic Party, the makeup of Missouri’s delegates is broken into three parts. First, Missouri has eight congressional districts that have an amount of delegates proportional to district population. Then there are Party Leaders and Elected Officials, known as PLEO delegates. These people can be mayors or other statewide elected officials and may include state senators. Finally, there are at-large delegates which are people that do not fit into any one district. Missouri has 84 Democratic delegates and 52 Republican delegates.
Prior to 2008, Missouri voters predicted the future President of the United States every four years from 1904-2004. There was only one exception: in 1956, Missourians favored Adlai Stevenson over Dwight Eisenhower. In 2008, things changed when Barack Obama lost by a very slim margin to John McCain followed by 2012 when Obama lost by a larger margin to Mitt Romney, according to 270toWin.com.
This could mean that Missouri is starting to lean more Republican. According to Hall, this could have to do with the distribution of population in Missouri. Cities like St. Louis and Kansas City and their surrounding counties, where the population is larger, tend to have a Democratic lean. However, rural areas make up the rest of the state and lean more Republican. If Missouri incorrectly picks for the third time, it could mean that the state is no longer more balanced and instead has a political lean.
“Politics are very unpredictable,” Hall said. “It’s very difficult to predict human behavior and that’s what we’re talking about when it comes to voting.”
Hall said he believes it is a privilege and responsibility of all U.S. citizens to vote. He said even if there is not a candidate that sticks out, students should still vote for someone.
“If you choose not to vote then the alternative is you’re stuck with whomever someone else desires to represent your views,” Hall said. “That could be far worse than taking the time to… assess your own interests and then make a vote.”
The votes that create a majority for a candidate will send delegates to the DNC and RNC to represent Missouri’s choice for president.
“The bottom line is the primary is a sorting out of the range of candidates to the final candidates that will be moving forward,” Hall said. “At this point it’s all very fluid.”
*Clarification* A previous version of this story stated Missouri was a winner-takes-all state for all parties and delegates.