McCain still leads in Missouri as official results deadline passes

Tuesday, November 18, 2008 | 6:32 p.m. CST; updated 12:07 p.m. CST, Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The headline on this story has been rewritten for clarity.

JEFFERSON CITY — His slim lead has shrunk further, but John McCain remains ahead of President-elect Barack Obama as Missouri's local election jurisdictions turn in their official results.

Tuesday was the deadline for local election officials to mail their official results to the Missouri secretary of state.

At the close of business, McCain led Obama by 4,355 votes out of more than 2.9 million cast in the Nov. 4 election.

But the state still was waiting on official results from four jurisdictions, including three of its most populous — St. Louis city and county and Jackson County, where Kansas City is located. Also outstanding was rural Montgomery County, said secretary of state spokesman Ryan Hobart.

The day after the election, McCain led Obama by 5,868 votes. The numbers have changed as local election officials double-check their results and count provisional ballots.

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan has until Dec. 9 to do her own review and officially certify the results.

After the local election authorities turn in their results, it's unlikely that any additional ballots would be counted. Rather, it's a matter of making sure the precinct-by-precinct numbers are all in place and correctly add up to the totals submitted by local officials.

"Multiple people go through and check them, and if we see any discrepancy in how the results were added up or see anything missing in the certification — like if vote totals are missing (for a particular race) — then we'll go back and ask them for an amended certification," Hobart said.

If McCain's lead holds up, it would mark the first time since 1956 that Missouri's electoral votes have not gone to the winning presidential candidate. That year, Missourians voted for Democrat Adlai Stevenson instead of Republican President Dwight Eisenhower by a margin of 3,984 votes out of more than 1.8 million cast — a 0.22 percentage point margin.

McCain's lead over Obama amounts to a 0.15 percentage point margin.

That would be Missouri's closest percentage gap since 1908, when Republican William Howard Taft defeated Democrat William Jennings Bryan by 449 votes out of 716,788 cast — a margin of 0.06 percentage points.

In Missouri's 1860 presidential election, Democrat Stephen Douglas edged out John Bell of the Constitutional Union Party by 429 votes out of 165,518 cast. Because of the smaller vote total, that amounted to a 0.26 percent victory margin. Republican Abraham Lincoln, who won the presidency that year, finished a distant fourth in Missouri.


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Mike Zweifel November 19, 2008 | 10:38 a.m.

This story has a horribly written headline. Did the AP provide this as an option, or was this done by someone at the Missourian?

There is absolutely no reason to have "Brace Yourself" in this headline.

Definitely no bias with this headline, /sarcasm. Of course, your weekly columnist George Kennedy said it is okay for reporters to be biased, so I guess this headline is okay.

I guess Mr. Kennedy forgot the third line of the Journalist's Creed, which hangs on the wall at the Missouri School of Journalism. "I believe that clear thinking and clear statement, accuracy and fairness are fundamental to good journalism." Maybe Mr. Kennedy and the headline writer forgot about the "fairness" part.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr November 19, 2008 | 10:52 a.m.

Missouri is no longer the "Belle Weather State" it was for so long so no longer is she the "Belle Of The Ball". Though she may not be the "Belle Of The Ball" anymore she is still "Our Girl". :)

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand November 19, 2008 | 11:19 a.m.

George hasn't edited the Missourian in years. In fact, he's retired.

(Report Comment)
Mike Zweifel November 19, 2008 | 11:51 a.m.

I know he is retired, Ayn. I never stated he was an editor; only a columnist.

I brought him and his column up as an excuse for the headline writer to fall back on to excuse this ridiculous headline.

For better reading, how's this re-write:
The third line of the Journalist's Creed, which hangs on the wall at the Missouri School of Journalism, and was penned by founder and Dean Walter Williams, states "I believe that clear thinking and clear statement, accuracy and fairness are fundamental to good journalism." Maybe both Mr. Kennedy and the headline writer have forgotten about the "fairness" part of the Journalist's Creed.

(Report Comment)
Jake Sherlock November 19, 2008 | 12:04 p.m.


I was not involved in the posting of this particular story, so I can't say for certain what the thinking was.

But, couldn't "Brace yourself" refer to the fact that, as things look, Missouri is not the predictor it has been in every election since 1956? That's something I've heard partisans on both the left and the right tout as a source of pride.

I will agree that it's not completely clear, which does go against the Journalist's Creed. I'll be changing the headline for that reason.

(Report Comment)
Mike Zweifel November 19, 2008 | 12:45 p.m.


When I hear the phrase "Brace yourself", I automatically think that the words after that phrase are either bad or surprising news. I do not view McCain still leading in Missouri to be either bad or surprising.

As for your paragraph explaining "Brace yourself", it might work for me if it was not referring to the 9th paragraph of the story. The first eight discuss the tallys of the election and vote counting. Then the story transitions to the 1956 reference. I view that 1956 paragraph as secondary information, but not the main focus of or reason for the article. Shouldn't the headline of the story reflect the primary information in the article?

Thank you for changing the headline.

(Report Comment)
Jake Sherlock November 19, 2008 | 7:09 p.m.


The headline should reflect the news of the day, which the original headline did (or at least the part after "Brace yourself"). I'm sure we could argue all day about the headline writer's intent with "Brace yourself." If the copy editor who wrote it would like to add to this conversation, that would be great.

My point, which I don't believe I made clear in my last post, is this: When headlines have potential double meanings, why do some folks automatically assume that it must have been written by someone who leans left? Could it not have been an honest mistake, or a different intent?

In this case, the intent was unclear, and it needed to be changed. There are times for "clever" or "sassy" headlines, but an important news story like this one probably wasn't it. But other news editors may disagree with me, and they're certainly welcome to do so.

I realize your politics don't exactly line up with George Kennedy's, but why assume that George's opinions are shared by everyone within the Missourian and/or the J School?

(Report Comment)

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