Color our region purple, based on 2012 elections
The Kansas City Star
Missouri and Kansas were colored red early on Election Night when presidential candidate Mitt Romney swept to easy victories in both states. President Barack Obama won enough “blue” states elsewhere to be re-elected.
But what the statewide maps didn’t show — and final voting results indicate — is that the Kansas City region really was the color of purple after the recent presidential election.
Interesting results occurred in that top contest as well as several others on Nov. 6 in Johnson, Wyandotte, Jackson, Clay, Cass and Platte counties. Among them:
- Obama beat Romney.
Oh, but it was close, as the tally shows:
Obama — 412,306
Romney — 409,325
Obama’s showing here flies in the face of the notion, often expressed by conservative forces, that the Kansas City region as a whole has turned its back on Democrats. Then again, there was no clear mandate for the liberal side of the political equation, either.
Obama won handily in two Democratic strongholds, gathering 77 percent of the vote in the portion of Kansas City that’s in Jackson County and 67 percent in Wyandotte County.
Romney did best in Cass County by winning 63 percent of the electorate. His other vote totals were 58 percent in Johnson County, 56 percent in Platte County, and 53 percent in Clay County and in Jackson County outside Kansas City.
- Gov. Jay Nixon and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill were equally popular.
And by “equally,” we mean it.
Sure, the two Missouri Democrats ran in totally separate races. Plus, Nixon succeeded partly by running a campaign that stressed his conservative roots, while McCaskill emphasized that her opponent was too conservative for Missouri.
But the elections also had similarities. Both candidates had weak opponents. Nixon faced the untested businessman David Spence; McCaskill opposed Todd (“legitimate rape”) Akin.
Here is how many votes Nixon and McCaskill received in their separate races in the Missouri-side counties in our region:
McCaskill — 308,126
Nixon — 306,263
The biggest difference came when McCaskill pulled in 2,600 more votes than Nixon did in the Kansas City portion of Jackson County. Voter turnout was basically the same for both races in the entire region.
In the GOP stronghold of Cass County, Akin actually almost beat McCaskill, while Spence did edge Nixon by 700 votes.
Statewide, Nixon and McCaskill each got 54.8 percent of the vote in their races. McCaskill received 1,494,124 votes — while Nixon had 1,494,056. That’s a difference of a measly 68 votes.
- Area congressional races weren’t close.
In Kansas, 3rd District U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, a Republican, didn’t even face a Democratic opponent. So a large number of Wyandotte County Democrats supported Libertarian Joel Balam; Yoder barely won there, 19,853-18,589.
However, Yoder cruised to re-election thanks to support in the much larger, GOP-leaning Johnson County, where he crushed Balam, 177,044-73,018.
In Missouri, 5th District U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver actually was outpolled 63,390-62,840 by four-time Republican challenger Jacob Turk in Jackson County outside of Kansas City.
But Cleaver, a Democrat, won his fifth term thanks to an overwhelming margin in the Kansas City portion of that county, 104,582-27,471.
And while disappointing, it wasn’t surprising that Cass County Prosecutor Teresa Hensley didn’t unseat 4th District U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler.
Hensley, a Democrat, didn’t win her home county, losing 27,169-19,505 to the Republican incumbent.
- Our region didn’t do its part to pass the cigarette tax.
The plan to hike Missouri’s lowest-in-the-nation tax of 17 cents a pack was approved by only 56 percent of area voters. The highest rate was 62 percent in Kansas City in Jackson County. And the tax even failed in Cass County, getting just 48 percent of the vote.
Overall, the lack of success for the tax in this metropolitan area couldn’t overcome the antipathy toward it in rural parts of Missouri. The tax was defeated statewide by a 51 percent to 49 percent margin.
- Finally, local control of the Kansas City Police Department got a big boost.
Almost 68 percent of Kansas Citians in Jackson County supported ending state oversight of the St. Louis Police Department. The votes from Kansas Citians in Clay and Platte County were a bit lower, but still around 60 percent support.
By next year, Kansas City will be in the embarrassing spot of being the nation’s only city where local officials are not held accountable for their police force. Area voters this year showed they would be very open to local control, a change that must occur as soon as possible.