When people talk about a bellwether state, they sort of think that it’s a state that has a lot of independent voters. Missouri politically right now is not all that balanced. It’s fervently Republican in 85 percent of the state, and the urban areas are fervently Democratic. There’s no real purple in Missouri; it’s either red or blue, and it’s almost entirely red. The state legislature is completely controlled by the Republicans. Yet the governor, Jay Nixon, is a Democrat, as is Senator Claire McCaskill. Part of that is both of them were very effective at campaigning in some of the rural areas.

Nixon actually won Greene County, in southwest Missouri, where Roy Blunt’s from. Carnahan is probably going to run a similar campaign, getting out into those rural areas. She concentrates on letting people know she’s got a family farm in Rolla, in south central Missouri. She’s a lawyer, but she runs the farm as well. That is a similar strategy to what Nixon and McCaskill did. But the difference is that Roy Blunt is still incredibly popular in southwest Missouri. If you don’t get some numbers out of there you just can’t win in a general election. It’s going to be hard for Carnahan to get the sort of numbers McCaskill and Nixon got. Without those numbers, she will have to absolutely destroy him in the cities.

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Kathy Gilsinan is the associate editor at World Politics Review