ST. LOUIS • The city’s chances of hosting the 2016 Democratic National Convention may hinge on Missouri’s transforming itself back into a contentious political battleground.
In her race, McCaskill is running as a moderate Democrat against U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, a Republican and a strong conservative who has been told by his own party’s establishment to quit the race after controversial comments on rape and abortion.
In the last two election cycles, Democrats have focused on states that have morphed into battlegrounds because of demographic shifts.
Until 2008, North Carolina hadn’t voted for a Democratic president since 1976, when the state sided with Jimmy Carter. Through the decades, North Carolina transformed itself from a largely rural state into one dominated by banking and research professionals. In 1980, it had 13 electoral votes. Today it has 15.
By contrast, Missouri has lost influence and electoral sway, thus hurting its convention chances. St. Louis has hosted four Democratic conventions, the last in 1916 when Woodrow Wilson was nominated for president. Missouri had 18 electoral votes that year. Today it has 10.
With its standard bearer being the nation’s first black president, the Democratic Party has tried to showcase a minority-friendly image.
Missouri is about 83 percent white. North Carolina is 66 percent white and 21 percent black. Colorado, which hosted the Democrats in 2008, is 19 percent Hispanic. Missouri’s Hispanic population is just 3 percent.
Ken Warren, a political science professor at St. Louis University, said Missouri’s lack of diversity will hurt St. Louis’ chances.
“North Carolina, for example, has become more yuppified,” Warren said. “These metro people tend to be a lot more liberal. Missouri is an old, traditional state. The demographics aren’t that appealing to Democrats.”
Obama barely lost Missouri in 2008, but the state has slipped further from his reach in the following years, according to polling data. Still, some Democrats hold a sliver of hope that it could reverse course for Obama.